HomeNational#EndSARS: Falana tackles Keyamo over legality of Lagos panel

#EndSARS: Falana tackles Keyamo over legality of Lagos panel

Keyamo cannot draw a dichotomy between his private views and the views of the government that he is are part of

Human rights lawyer and activist, Femi Falana has slammed the Minister of State for Labour, Mr Festus Keyamo, SAN, for describing as illegal the EndSARS Panel set up by the Lagos State Government.

Falana expressed this on Monday while speaking at a one-day Nigeria Pro-Democracy Conference 2021 with the theme: ‘Rethinking the Moment: Building Citizens Alternative Movement Beyond 2023’.

The Lagos State Government had set up a Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and other matters following reported cases of abuse of rights of citizens by some police personnel and the Lekki toll gate shootings during the #EndSARS protests.

The Justice Doris Okuwobi-led panel, in a report recently submitted to the State Government, disclosed that at least nine persons were confirmed dead at the Lekki toll plaza on the night soldiers stormed there to disperse unarmed #EndSARS protesters on October 20, 2020.

Also, the panel in the report titled, ‘Report of Lekki Incident Investigation Of 20th October 2020’, said at least 48 protesters were either shot dead, injured with bullet wounds or assaulted by the soldiers.

It stated further that nine protesters were confirmed dead, while four were presumed dead while it listed 48 names as casualties of the incident.

Breaking down the list, the panel said among the 48, about 20 sustained gunshot injuries, while 13 others were assaulted by the military.

However, Keyamo said the Lagos state government, which set up the judicial panel, lacks the power to probe the conduct of police and military officers.

The minister pointed out that by the virtue of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), only the federal government can investigate the military and police.

But Falana, in reaction to Keyamo’s stance, said the view of the serving minister has no legal basis while restating the legal wherewithal of the Lagos State Government to institute a judicial panel of inquiry on any issue.

He said: “Nigeria is governed by law. The Lagos State government sets up a judicial inquiry, it was not an inquiry set up on the directive of the federal government. When you say that, you insult the state, which is a sovereign within the federation.

“When someone now says that the panel in Lagos is illegal because it has investigated federal officers, with profound respect, he is not talking law. That is not the law.

“The Lagos panel relied solely on documentary evidence from the officials of the government. In fact, exhibit A, the first document tendered before the panel was produced by the LCC which captured the events of October 20, 2020, but the camera was later disabled.

“Few weeks ago, President Buhari told the US Secretary of State that he is waiting for the reports from the state governors and he will implement them, but our friend said on Sunday on Television that he is speaking on his behalf and not as a minister.

“You cannot draw a dichotomy between your private views and the views of the government that you are part of.”

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