By Idowu Maryam
As 30 judicial panels of inquiry has been established nationwide to investigate cases of police brutality on the citizens and provide compensation for victims where necessary proceeds, the Federal Government has assured the public that there would be adequate justice for all affected Nigerians.
The Vice President, prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, gave the assurance on Tuesday in Lagos State at the launch of the Rebuild Lagos Trust Fund. Osinbajo who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, extended the Federal Government’s “solace to the government and people of Lagos State for the loss of lives of people, including the injured, and the destruction of public and private properties, social facilities and infrastructure.”
Lagos which is known for Nigeria’s commercial front centre, was the focal point of the #ENDSARS protests which was hijacked by hoodlums leading to the destruction of both government and private properties.
The Vice President added that the whole nation needs to heal and Buhari’s administration will pursue justice for all who’s affected.
The Vice President quoting President Buhari commentent on the exentent of destruction and human lives that followed the protest said, “these deaths should never had happened. It is now our responsibility and duty to honour their memory and ensure that justice is adequately served.
“Our State, like our Nation, is in need of healing. We recognize that the healing for a wounded society is truth and justice. This is why judicial panels of inquiry have been established all across the country with Their soul aim to investigate cases of police brutality against citizens, and where necessary compensate victims.
“Specifically, in Lagos, the mandate of the inquiry has been expanded to include a full investigation of the Lekki toll gate incidents. This process has begun and all Federal Agencies and armed forces are participating actively as Mr. President said, and I quote, ”We will also ensure that all those responsible for the misconduct or wrongful acts are brought to justice.”
“The pursuit of restorative justice, compensate for injury to innocents, and a reckoning for perpetrators. I plead with all Nigerians to give this process a chance to work and to commit to the support and participation that it will take to speed up this process to succeed.”
He expressed the commitment of President Buhari’s administration to reform the Nigeria Police Force and address the actual issues that led to the protests.
Speaking on the looting and destruction that followed the ENDSARS protests, the Vice President stated, “we have seen how the noblest causes, such as the ENDSARS protests which aim was to call attention to a serious problem of brutality and extrajudicial killings, can be overthrown leading to the opposite of its objectives, murder, chaos, stealing.
“In those difficult days when chaos swept from street to street consuming lives and livelihoods, we learned that society is built on the balance between freedom and order. But we have also realized that order itself is a social construct sustained by the consent of the governed.”
He called for public and private collaboration in the rebuilding and reconstruction of the state, which he noted had not experienced such level of destruction in the past.
The vice president said, “it is now time to rebuild. It is time for the painful and costly task of reconstruction and rehabilitation. It is now time for the private sector, our international friends and partners, and all who love this city to make their contributions to the rebuilding and reconstruction efforts. When Lagos works, it works for all.
“On the Federal Government’s part, Mr. President has said that he will await a full report from Your Excellency (Lagos State Governor) and I am sure that will be on hand soon. For businesses that were destroyed, the Central Bank Nigeria has been developing a plan to suspend existing facilities that they may have in banks and lines of cheap credit to help them rebuild their damaged facilities and re-stock.”
While describing Lagos as Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, the Vice President made reference to the socio-economic quartet effects the state has on the nation as a whole.
The Vice President added, “perhaps it is worth emphasizing that the damages and disruption of life and work in Lagos is a national tragedy and a major economic fall back for the Nation even as we face the most difficult economic challenges in our generation which is caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is the State that leads by far in the collection of non-oil revenues. The bulk of VAT is generated here. The Lagos port, whose Marina office was attacked, generates the most revenue, and is the busiest in the Nation; the Lagos airport is the busiest in Nigeria. In so many ways our fortunes as a Nation are closely tied to the fortunes of this great State.”
According to the Vice President, the government will continue to make efforts to improve its relationship with the youth and all Nigerians, while it continues the process of reforms of the Police. He also made an all-round proposition for the integration of young people in the new task of repositioning society.
The Vice President said, “we certainly cannot afford to isolate our young people who makes the majority of our society and bear the burden of enterprise, resourcefulness, and innovation required to grow our economy into the future.
“For their sake and ours, we need a broad-based and inclusive prosperity that creates opportunities on a scale that is equivalent with the aspirations of our population.”
The Vice president added that the task of reconstruction goes beyond physical infrastructure.
“There is a moral, social and ethical reconstruction to be undertaken as well. We must rebuild trust between the Government and the governed; the vast majority of who are young persons; trust between law enforcement agents and the communities that they are meant to serve. Never again should law enforcement find itself on opposite sides of any conflict with society.
“We must in the process rebuild the morale of our police force, the gallant men and women who put their lives on the line on daily bases to keep us all safe. The process of reform has commenced.”
Prof. Osinbajo stated that the reformed Police Act and the Police Trust Act signed by the President was part of government’s efforts in improving the Police while ensuring the rights of Nigerian citizens are protected.
On the efforts of Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo–Olu, to establish the reconstuction fund, he said,
“First, Mr. Governor, you led your State’s efforts in addressing the COVID-19 Pandemic to both local and international acclaim. When State Governors under the auspices of the National Economic Council (NEC) resolved that States should establish judicial panels of inquiry, Lagos was the very first state to constitute its inquiry. Your actions have been an example of responsibility, creativity, sensitivity, and resolve under pressure.”
The Vice President added that “Lagos and the Nation as a whole will definitely pass through this crisis better and stronger,” while pointing that, “even in the darkest of clouds bear a silver lining. These trying times offer an invaluable learning opportunity, a teachable moment, and it is the lessons we draw from this period that will shape our path going forward.”
Also in his remarks, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele, called for joint efforts in reconstructing and rebuilding Lagos explaining that the degree of the carnage cannot be handled by governement alone.
The Central Bank of Nigerias Governor, Mr. Emefiele pledged the support of organized private sector in the rebuilding of Lagos State which he added would include the reconstruction of damaged police stations by the private sector alliance with efforts in assisting affected private businesses to survive.
Also present at the event were, representative of Senate President, and Senator representing Lagos-West Senatorial District, Sen. Olamilekan Adeola, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, among others.
The Rebuild Lagos Trust Fund Board will be chaired by Mr. Yemi Cardoso.