By Nosa Akenzua, Asaba
Delta Governor, Mr,Ifeanyi Okowa, on Monday announced that the state government would establish a Special Victims’ Support Fund for the payment of monetary compensation to deserving victims of police brutality or related extra-judicial killings in the state.
The governor made the announcement in Asaba while inaugurating an eight-member Judicial Panel of Enquiry into police brutality and other human rights abuses in the state.
He said that the constitution of the panel was in line with the directive of the National Economic Council (NEC) headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, and charged the body to bring justice to victims.
Okowa said that it was unfortunate that those empowered to protect the lives of Nigerians were killing and brutalising them, and urged the panel to unearth all human rights abuses by the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of Nigeria Police Force and deliver justice to the victims and succour to grieving families.
He also charged the panel to evolve ways that culprits of police brutalization and killing of Nigerians would be dealt with, and expressed optimism that the enquiry would bring about total reformation and transformation of the Police Force for the good of the country.
“Today, we earnestly commence the process of bringing about restitution and healing for countless number of Nigerians, particularly the youth, who have been victims of police brutality, extortion, unlawful detention, and/or extra-judicial killings.
“In the more than one week that the EndSARS protests began, the news media – conventional and online – have been inundated with tales of woes that innocent Nigerians have experienced in the hands of the now dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force.
“Some of the stories we have heard are heart-rending and it is unfathomable how these gruesome acts could have gone on unnoticed for years.
“Interestingly, the EndSARS protests were triggered by an event in Ughelli, Delta State. It is a tragedy that so many young lives have been brutalised and allegedly wasted at the hands of those who were supposed to protect and serve the people.
“I join my voice to that of the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, in apologizing for the failure of leadership to detect and address these anomalies early enough.
“Rising from its meeting last week, the National Executive Council, chaired by the Vice-President, directed the immediate establishment of State-based Judicial Panels of Enquiry across the country to receive and investigate complaints of police brutality or related extra-judicial killings. Today’s inauguration follows that directive,” he said.