By Chijioke Okoronkwo
The National Economic Council (NEC) has asked governors to supervise the newly formed police tactical units and other security agencies in their states.
NEC made this resolution at the end of its fifth virtual meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The council also directed the immediate establishment of state-based Judicial Panels of Inquiry across the country to receive and investigate complaints of police brutality or related extra judicial killings.
NEC said such panels would ensure the delivering of justice for all victims of the dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad(SARS) and other police units.
The council resolved that governors and the FCT Minister should take charge of interface and contact with the protesters in their respective domains.
“The Judicial Panels which would be set up in all the states will include representatives of youths, students, civil society organisations and will be chaired by a respected retired State High Court Judge.
“The council also directed that state governors should immediately establish a State-based Special Security and Human Rights Committee to be chaired by the Governors in their States, to supervise the newly formed police tactical units and all other security agencies located in the State.
“The idea of the Special Security and Human Rights Committee in all States of the Federation and the FCT is to ensure that police formations and other security agencies in the state consistently protect the human rights of citizens.
“Members of the Special Committee will also include representatives of youths, and civil society.
“ The head of police tactical units in each of the states will also be a member of the committee,” the council said.
The Judicial Panel of Inquiry, which would be set up by each state government, would be headed by a retired High Court Judge, with other members selected by the state governor.
Members of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry would be made up of two representatives of civil society groups and one retired police officer of high repute.
Others are one youth representative, one student representative, one representative of the State Attorney-General and a representative from the National Human Rights Commission.
The terms of reference for the Judicial Panel include to receive and investigate complaints of Police brutality or related extra judicial killings.
It is also to evaluate evidence presented/other surrounding circumstances, and draw conclusions as to the validity of the complaints; and recommend compensation and other remedial measures, where appropriate.
The panel’s assignment should be concluded within a maximum of six months unless it shows convincing reasons why the state governor should allow an extension, NEC said.
There will also be Human Rights Public Complaints Team of between two to three persons to receive complaints on an ongoing basis.
The team will be established by the Special Committee on Security and Human Rights.
NEC directed that each state government should also set up a Complaints Office to which members of the public can relate by telephone or social media channels.
“It shall be the duty of the officers of the Complaints Office to liaise with the leadership of security agencies, attempt resolution of complaints or otherwise guide the complainants.
“Also NEC directs all State Governors to immediately establish a Victims Fund to enable the payment of monetary compensation to deserving victims.’’
NEC also received update on Nigeria’s COVID-19 response efforts from Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
According to the report, states testing in September compared to August declined in 18 states and improved in 19 others.
The NCDC boss also listed priority intervention areas as strengthening states’ Health Security Architecture, Strong State Epidemiology team, Functional Molecular Lab, Defined Treatment Centre, Response Vehicles, Communication equipment and Resources to deploy.
He also listed the establishment and sustenance of sample collection sites.