Following comments from the Minister of Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, that the EndSARS judicial panel was illegal, it has been reported that some Senior Advocates of Nigeria on Monday had faulted the submission.
This was reportedly disclosed in a series of different interviews granted to some members of the body.
According to reports, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, stated that, “The minister had no justification to label the panel an illegal one. The panel is and was legal in all ramifications. It was set up by the appropriate authority, which is the Lagos State Government, and it is statutorily empowered to do so. It has been like that from time immemorial.”
He added that, “Also, the panel that was set up was done under the Lagos State Commission of Enquiry Law. Section One of the law vests the power on the governor of the state to set up a panel of enquiry for the purpose of fact finding when an extraordinary occurs. Under that law, no immunity is granted to anyone.”
He noted that, “The criminal law, either at the state or federal level, does not grant immunity to soldiers and policemen.”
He attested that, “One thing we should also know is that what happened in Lagos is a crime against humanity; it is a widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population which is an international crime.”
In addition, the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law, Monday Ubani, reportedly stated that, “So many panels have been set up known to us in history in Plateau, Rivers and many other states of the Federation and Police and the Army were invited and they testified before them all. So, what is Keyamo (SAN) talking about?”
He maintained that, “The present panels set up by the various states in the Federation are constitutional, legitimate and are empowered to inquire into the various allegations of human rights violations committed by the personnel of the Nigerian Police Force as nothing in the Constitution of Nigeria precludes them from doing so.”
He added that, “Presently, no judicial decision so far has pronounced the panels as unconstitutional, despite the grumblings here and there. In fact, the feeble attempt by the Chief Legal Officer of the Nigerian Police Force to institute a suit challenging the legality of the panels was met with severe reprimand from the top hierarchy of the Force, and the said suit was quickly withdrawn from the court. We do not know of any other pending suit challenging the legality of the panels presently in any of the Nigerian courts.”