Adegboruwa to Keyamo: FG can’t declare #EndSARS panels illegal after setting them up

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Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), says the federal government cannot declare judicial panels on police brutality illegal after setting them up.

Adegboruwa said the #EndSARS panels were established by the directive of the federal government through the National Economic Council (NEC) led by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.

The report of the Lagos judicial panel, which described the Lekki shooting incident as a massacre, has been in the news lately.

Reacting to the development, Festus Keyamo, minister of state for labour and employment, said the Lagos judicial panel was “illegal and a waste of time”.

Keyamo, who is a senior advocate of Nigeria, said the police and the military are not under the “legislative competence” of the Lagos state government, hence lacks the power to probe their conduct.

In response to Keyamo, Adegboruwa, in a statement on Monday, said the federal government, which initiated the setting up of judicial panels and actively participated in the process cannot plead illegality because the outcome is unfavourable.

The human rights lawyer, who is a member of the Lagos panel, said it is important that the government build trust in all its dealing and utterances.

“The federal government has recently mooted the idea that all the judicial panels of inquiry set up by the various states across the federation, especially that of Lagos state, are illegal,” Adegboruwa said.

“It has never been part of our legal system in Nigeria, for a plaintiff who approached the court in the first instance, to turn around to challenge the legality or jurisdiction of the court.

“The #EndSARS Panels were set up at the behest of the federal government, through the National Economic Council. In the case of the Lagos panel, the federal government, through the Nigerian army, voluntarily submitted itself to the jurisdiction of the Panel, the federal government called witnesses, it tendered documents and it made very lengthy presentations.

“A party cannot approbate and reprobate at the same time. Thus, a party who initiated a process and willingly and actively participated in that process, cannot turn around, after judgment, to plead illegality or absence of jurisdiction, simply because the outcome is unfavorable. We must strengthen our institutions to make them work.”

In October 2020, NEC asked states to set up judicial panels to investigate cases of police brutality — after a nationwide protest against police brutality tagged #EndSARS.

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