Monday, March 20, 2023

#EndSARS: State judicial panels kick off with red tape and no clear plan

A lack of clarity and efficiency means panels may fail to inspire any meaningful policing reform.

• October 30, 2020
Rinu and Majekodunmi at the Lagos Judicial Panel

About 28 state governments have formed a judicial panel to probe police brutality since the #EndSARS upheaval took off early this month.

Red tape, political patronage and unclear planning seem to be slowing the pace of work and may weaken the impact of these panels.

It is now more than a week since the Anambra government established a 32-person panel, but the panel has not yet sat once.

The panel wants the public to submit 10 physical copies of petitions regarding police brutality before November 3, but it has not announced when it will begin sitting to hear petitioners.

There appears to be no clear plan for how the panel will do its job and how long the probe will take.

Ondo’s judicial panel is made up of only eight people, but as in Anambra, petitioners must also cut through some red tape by submitting more than a dozen physical copies of their petition to state bureaucrats.

The deadline for submissions is November 16, but there is no date yet for the panel to start hearing cases even though the duration of this probe is set to six months.

The dynamic in Enugu is similar. The panel wants 12 physical copies of petitions, has not mapped out a schedule for hearing cases and prospective petitioners do not know when they will be heard.

In Cross River, the composition of the panel has drawn concerns about political patronage. A local nonprofit We the People says the governor Ben Ayade has handpicked his own friends.

Three of the seven people on the panel currently work for the governor, and that includes one of his political advisers. People do not know when the panel hearings will begin or what they intend to accomplish exactly.

States have demonstrated some support for the #EndSARS movement and creating these panels could initiate key changes, but a lack of clarity and efficiency could get in the way of any policing reform. Appointing people for their political links instead of relevant competence also weakens the integrity of the panel and may produce the wrong outcomes.

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