Independent Investigation panel on SARS to continue Abuja sitting soon – NHRC

Independent Investigation panel on SARS to continue Abuja sitting soon – NHRC
NHRC

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday said that its Independent Investigation panel on allegations of violations of human rights by the defunct SARS and other police units will continue public sitting in Abuja soon.

The panel stopped sitting in March.

Answering questions from journalists in Abuja, Mr Tony Ojukwu, Executive Secretary of the commission, stated that the panel would soon resume sitting.

“We have the panel going on in 36 locations, Abuja is just one location, we are collating results now from some states where sitting has ended.

“Abuja is not only burdened with physical public hearing, we are also, co-ordinating what is happening in states.

“It is part of the programme that there would be this break and very soon we would also get through with that and continue with the public sitting,” Ojukwu said.

Speaking in the same vein, the secretary to the panel, Mr Hillary Ogbonna, said the panel has received 120 petitions “that are alive”.

“Alive means petitions are being heard, they are in different stages, some are at the stages of presentation and some are being defended.

“Then we have an additional 50 petitions that are yet to be heard.

“The whole point of resuming very soon is that while we were on break, we looked at fast-tracking mechanisms through which we can ensure that these cases are not delayed anymore either from the petitioners or the police” Ogbonna stated.

He said they are coming out with new rules of procedures that would enable them fast-track the petitions.

He added that about 100 petitions or cases have been determined by courts of law.

“Damages and compensation have been awarded, ranging from N10 million to N100 million, but the affected petitioners have not enjoyed the fruit of the judgment which is the money.

“The police have not paid them, so they are now petitioning through us in other to get their money. For cases, already determined, the panel cannot sit de novo (start afresh) on them.

“This is because these are judgements of competent jurisdiction, so the panel has instructed the secretariat to verify the judgements from the courts that have finished with such cases.” he said.

Ogbonna said they cannot just act on the face of it as the photocopies of judgements have been sent to them for about one month plus because courts were on strike.

“The strike affected decisions in many ways.

“Now that the courts are back, I have no doubt in my mind that we will clear all our adminstrative bottlenecks,” Ogbonna promised.

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