Lawyers Fault Keyamo Over Comments On EndSARs Panel

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Some Senior Advocates of Nigeria on Monday faulted the position of the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, on the #EndSARs panel set up by the Lagos State Government and the report it presented to the state government recently.

Keyamo had in an interview with Channels Television on Sunday said it was out of the jurisdiction of the panel to investigate the activities of Federal Government institutions and officials such as the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigerian Army.

But Mike Ozekhome, SAN, in an interview with The PUNCH on Monday said Keyamo was wrong in labelling the panel an illegal one.

He said, “The minister had no justification to label the panel an illegal one.

“The panel is and was legal in all ramifications. It was set up by the appropriate authority, which is the Lagos State Government, and it is statutorily empowered to do so. It has been like that from time immemorial.”

Another SAN, Dr Remi Olatunbora, in a separate interview with The PUNCH said it was wrong for anybody to describe a judicial panel as illegal.

He said, “It is sheer lawlessness for anybody to say the setting up of a judicial panel is illegal. The Lekki Toll Gate massacre was a crime committed against the law of Lagos State and under the law of murder in Lagos State, there is no immunity for soldiers and policemen.

Also, the panel that was set up was done under the Lagos State Commission of Enquiry Law. Section One of the law vests the power on the governor of the state to set up a panel of enquiry for the purpose of fact finding when an extraordinary occurs. Under that law, no immunity is granted to anyone.

“The criminal law, either at the state or federal level, does not grant immunity to soldiers and policemen.

One thing we should also know is that what happened in Lagos is a crime against humanity; it is a widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population which is an international crime.”

The Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law, Monday Ubani, also in a statement, faulted Keyamo’s position.

He said, “So many panels have been set up known to us in history in Plateau, Rivers and many other states of the Federation and Police and the Army were invited and they testified before them all. So, what is Keyamo (SAN) talking about?

 “The present panels set up by the various states in the Federation are constitutional, legitimate and are empowered to inquire into the various allegations of human rights violations committed by the personnel of the Nigerian Police Force as nothing in the Constitution of Nigeria precludes them from doing so.

“Presently, no judicial decision so far has pronounced the panels as unconstitutional, despite the grumblings here and there. In fact, the feeble attempt by the Chief Legal Officer of the Nigerian Police Force to institute a suit challenging the legality of the panels was met with severe reprimand from the top hierarchy of the Force, and the said suit was quickly withdrawn from the court. We do not know of any other pending suit challenging the legality of the panels presently in any of the Nigerian courts.”

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