#EndSARS: Youths divided over selection of Osun Inquiry Panel members

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NIGERIAN youths championing the agitation against Police brutality and bad governance in Osun State have rejected the State Judicial Panel of Inquiry into the activities of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad by the state government.

Governor Gboyega Oyetola had inaugurated a 12-man panel of inquiry to look into the alleged brutality of police against the people of the state.

Addressing a press conference in Osogbo on Monday, the #EndSARS protesters accused the state government of filling the panel with people of questionable character and rejected it.

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According to the spokesperson of the protesters, Olawale Bakare; and Olushayo Ogunleye, the Mobilisation Secretary, the panel needs to be reviewed while those that allegedly lack the moral justification to represent youths in the panel should be removed.

The protesters warned the state Governor against criminalising their demonstration against police brutality, bad governnace, reversal of fuel hike and electricity tariff.

They said, “We seek protection under the law against the anti-democratic tendencies in Osun State, under the callous and incompetent supervision of Alh. Gboyega Oyetola to repress, threaten and attack peaceful protesters.

“It’s quite unfortunate that the individuals who are supposed to be the custodian of democracy and preserve law and order are rather found culpable of unleashing terror on peaceful protesters plus setting up a kangaroo leadership to mischievously misrepresent the movement.

“As peaceful agitating youths, we have been engaging in demonstrations since the emergence of EndSARS protest nation wide.

“We maintain that the Judicial Panel of Inquiry be fairly and justly constituted. We reject an imposed Judicial Panel of Inquiry constituted by Mr Governor, Gboyega Oyetola, whose convoy killed protesters and left many severely injured.

“We hereby call for the immediate and unconditional review of this Judicial Panel of Inquiry; we request that no panelist must have controversial antecedents and track records of service must be acceptable to the protesters.

“We emphatically demand that the protesters should also be adequately and satisfactorily represented in the Judicial Panel of Inquiry as a way to encourage transparency. No kangaroo representation of the protesters is allowed; impostors posing to be the #EndSARS protesters and the representative of the National Youths Council of Nigeria should be immediately ejected as the body itself has no legal base since their certificate of existence has been withdrawn far back by the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, for violating the stipulated age requirement of The National Youth Policy.

“We also demand that every sitting of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry which must comprise of persons of integrity and moral excellence, must be aired and televised live for all the people of Osun and Nigeria at large to follow. We are also deeply concerned and condemn in absolute terms the meeting the already constituted Judicial Panel of Inquiry held which was not made public but shrouded in secrecy; the true representative of the people should carry the people along in every action.

“The public should be in the know that whatever is done in secrecy has ulterior motives. These are reasons that further buttress a need for an immediate and unconditional review of the Panel.

Meanwhile, the state judicial panel of inquiry into the human rights abuses allegedly committed by the disbanded SARS officers has reacted saying the allegation that the panel is populated by persons of questionable character is false.

The Secretary to the panel who is a Director of Public Prosecutions in Osun, Mrs Adekemi Bello, while speaking with The Point Newspaper on the telephone, described the opinion of the protesters as baseless and untrue.

Bello said the panel’s constitution followed due process and that it was peopled with personalities with integrity.

She said the panel was still expecting petitions from members of the public and that it was false that it had been meeting secretly as alleged by the protesters.

Also speaking on the telephone on Monday, a member of the panel, Mr Ismail Abdul Aziz (Chairman, National Youth Council of Nigeria) said Mr Olawale Bakare (Mandate) who made the allegation on behalf of the protesters wanted to lord his selfish interest on the movement against police brutality in the state.

He dismissed the allegation that the panel was fraudulent in its dealings since its inauguration, saying that the panel was carefully selected.

Aziz accused Bakare of planning to lure youths who participated in the genuine protest into the #RevolutionalNow movement of Omoyele Sowore but was rejected.

The panel member who is part of the youths that were appointed, said the committee was ready to discharge its duties fairly and justly.

He said, “I am privileged to be one of the leaders of the #EndSARS protest in Osun State and I didn’t even know how I was appointed to join the panel.

“Bakare and other RevolutionNow agitators wanted to overshadow every other protester and make us compromise on the genuine demands which had been taken up by the state government. Our demands had been met by the state government and during our meetings, we agreed to suspend the protests to enable government implement our demands fully.

“Bakare was also part of the meeting that agreed that the protest be suspended and I know he is not happy that some of us were appointed into the panel to represent youths.”

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