“That panel was an illegal panel. It is totally illegal. All lawyers who are listening to me should go back and read to the Tribunal of Inquiry Act of Lagos state“
The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo has said the Lagos judicial panel on police brutality was “illegal and a waste of time”.
Keyamo made the comment on Sunday during an interview on Channels Television.
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.
“I will not answer this question as a sitting minister, I will answer this question as senior advocate of Nigeria — a member of the inner bar — and so I’m entitled to my opinion. This is not the federal government opinion,” he said.
“For me, that panel was an illegal panel. It is totally illegal. All lawyers who are listening to me should go back and read to the Tribunal of Inquiry Act of Lagos state.
“It says that the governor will have power to inquire into the conduct of any person and chieftaincy matters and any matter that would promote the good of the public.
“However, any person there was defined in section 21 to mean public officers of the state. It is defined to mean somebody within the public service of the Lagos state or the local government as the case may be.
“However, if you look at section 21 again of the tribunal of inquiry law, it says that it has to be within the legislative competence of Lagos state.
“In other words, it is only a person over which whom the Lagos state has control that they can inquire into their conduct. If you don’t have control over me, you can’t inquire into my conduct.
“The policemen, the armed forces, the military are not officers of Lagos state. They are officers of the federal government.