Lekki Toll Gate: 3 Major Reasons FG Rejected Widely Circulated Lagos Panel Report
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
On Monday, November 15, the members of the Lagos judicial panel on restitution for victims of SARS related abuses and other matters submitted its report to the Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
The submission of the report caused mixed reactions across Nigeria with many commending the panel led by a retired chief judge of the Lagos High Court, Doris Okuwobi, and others picking holes in it.
Some of the commendations for the panel members were from civil society organisations, Nigerians across all walks of life and majorly, from the United States of America’s government which welcomed the submission of the report.
Lai Mohammed said that the authenticity of the Lagos state panel report is in doubt.
The US in a statement said the response of the Lagos state government over the report is a part of the process that showcases accountability and a good governance system.
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Following the report submission, the Lagos state government has since constituted a committee that would produce a white paper on the recommendations of the panel.
The panel is expected to make the white paper available to the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu. However, days after the report was released, many Nigerians at home and abroad anticipated the federal government’s response to the report.
To this, the minister of information had promised to give a robust response once he returns from his trip to Paris, France. Just four days after his promise, Lai Mohammed during a press briefing in Abuja on Tuesday, November 23, said the federal government rejects the report of the Lagos panel of inquiry in its entirety.
According to Mohammed, an indictment of murder is serious and cannot be relied upon without substantial evidence as seen in the activities and report of the Lagos panel.
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He further listed two major reasons for the rejection of the Lagos panel report by the federal government of Nigeria. The reasons are:
1. Report’s authenticity Mohammed said that from the instances available to the public, it is clear that the report of the panel in circulation is cannot be relied upon. According to the minister, the authenticity of the report is in doubt.
2. Lagos state government and panel yet to release any official report The minister said that the report cannot be accepted as the authentic one as the Lagos state government, being the convening authority is yet to make public any official report on the matter. He also that the Lagos panel that was saddled with the responsibility of conducting investigations into various allegations on the issues of police brutality and the incidents of October 20, 2020, #ENDSARS protest at the Lekki Toll Gate has not made any report public. READ ALSO Bandits in trouble as Niger government bans sale of motorcycles, gives strong warning
3. Leakage of an unsigned report, not enough Mohammed warned that the cowardly leakage of an unsigned report to the public is not enough. He said that assuming the report in circulation bears any iota of genuineness, it is basic knowledge that the report of such calibre is of no force until the convening authority issues a white paper and gazette on it.
Mohammed said it would premature for any individual or body to castigate the federal government and its agencies and officials based on such an unofficial and unvalidated report.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s reaction to the Lagos panel report
President Muhammadu Buhari had reacted to the report by the Lagos panel of inquiry on police brutality and the October 20, 2020, Lekki Toll Gate incident.
The president while receiving the US secretary to the state, Anthony Blinken, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja said the federal government will take up the issues raised on the report after the Lagos state government have taken steps on it.
According to the president, the federal government cannot impose ideas on the state government on the matter.
Governor Sanwo-Olu’s reaction to the Lagos panel report In addition, Governor Sanwo-Olu while receiving the report from the panel members led by their chairperson said he appreciates the effort put into the task.
Governor Sanwo-Olu assured that for the state to ensure swift implementation of the recommendations made in the report, a committee would be saddled with the responsibility of producing a white paper from it.
He further set up a four-member committee led by the Lagos state attorney-general and commissioner for Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN).