The National Economic Council (NEC), one of Nigerian government’s highest advisory and decision-making bodies, is planning to convene a special meeting to review reports of various judicial panels of enquiry set up last year to probe cases of police brutality in the country.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who chairs the NEC, said this in a statement issued by his spokesperson, Laolu Akande, at the end of the 117th meeting of the council on Thursday.

He said the reports of some of the panels, commonly known as #EndSARS panels, “have now started coming to the council.”

The panels were set up in most of the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, in the wake of the October 2020 #EndSARS protests against police brutality.

Shaken by protests, the government quickly granted the protesters’ demand for the dissolution of the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

The NEC, with the Vice-President as the chair, and the 36 state governors, some federal cabinet members, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, and some other top government functionaries, as members, had also recommended the setting of the judicial panels of enquiry to address the grievances of victims of police brutality in the country.

‘NEC special session’

Mr Osinbajo announced on Thursday that a special meeting of NEC would soon be convened to “consider the implementation of the reports, including remedies, redress and compensations.”

“It will be recalled that the judicial panels were recommended after adoption of a resolution by NEC to address nationwide complaints of police brutality after the President dissolved the Police SARS unit. Almost all states in the federation set up the panels including the Federal Capital Territory.

“The Vice President at today’s (Thursday) meeting announced that a special session of NEC will soon be convened to consider all the reports that are ready from the judicial panels set up late last year to address the concerns of the Nigerian people on police brutality allegations and other related issues.

“That meeting would also consider the implementation of the reports including remedies, redress and compensations,” the statement from the Vice-President’s office read in part.

Concerns

Many have raised concerns about the government’s history of lukewarm attitude towards implementation of reports of such panels.

As important as the setting up of the panels was considered to be in assuaging accumulated grievances of many victims of police brutality, many state governments did not inaugurate the panels.

In some states, the #EndSARS panels were inaugurated but abruptly stopped sitting.

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