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#EndSARS: Lagos panel faces long deadlock without quorum

A lack of quorum threatens this panel formed based on the Tribunals of Inquiry Law. In 2001, a panel to probe civil unrest in Kosofe had five members. The quorum was four.

• November 8, 2020
The Lagos panel of inquiry on #EndSARS. [CREDIT: Bella Naija]
The Lagos panel of inquiry on #EndSARS. [CREDIT: Bella Naija]

Two #EndSARS organisers sitting on the Lagos panel of inquiry boycotted the panel’s hearing on Saturday to protest the central bank’s clampdown on the movement. The hearing was quickly adjourned for lack of quorum.

A quorum is a minimum number of a panel’s members who must be present for the panel to legally function.

The Lagos Tribunals of Inquiry Law says the state governor must specify the panel’s quorum in an instrument.

In this case the instrument and the actual quorum have not been made public, but panel chair Doris Okuwobi indicated that the quorum is greater than six, meaning at least seven out of the panel’s eight members must be present or else the panel will not be able to sit.

“We don’t want a situation where proceedings would go on and later it is impugned with controversy for lack of quorum,” Ms. Okuwobi said before Saturday’s adjournment.

Oluwarinu Oduala and Temitope Majekodunmi are the two #EndSARS organisers on the panel. They boycotted the day’s hearing and have said they will continue this boycott until the government clarifies restrictions on the bank accounts for #EndSARS activists.

Last month the central bank began instructing banks to freeze accounts associated with the #EndSARS movement. One media company Gatefield says its Access Bank account was frozen on October 15 for its funding of #EndSARS press coverage. That was three weeks before the central bank got a court order to direct banks to freeze accounts for Ms. Oduala, who is on the Lagos panel, and 18 other #EndSARS activists.

“We find it dishonourable that the same government that claims to seek justice would unjustly oppress citizens at the same time,” Ms. Oduala and Mr. Majekodunmi jointly said in their statement on Saturday.

“We also demand that the government gives justification for their ongoing investigation to the masses. Until this is done, the youth representatives will be absent from the panel sittings.”

A high quorum is common for panels that have been set up in Lagos using the Tribunals of Inquiry Law. In 2001, a panel to probe civil unrest in Kosofe had five members. The quorum was four.

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