A member of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and other matters, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, says there are documents to defend the report submitted by the panel to the government.
He said this on Friday in a statement titled ‘EndSARS Panel: I Acted on The Mandate of The Governor’, in reaction to the remarks by one of the senior counsels to the state government at the panel.
Although he did not name the lawyer, Adegboruwa noted that the legal practitioner asked Nigerians to reject the report of the panel because he (Adegboruwa) signed it and was not present at some of the sittings.
“There are documents to back up and defend the report submitted to the governor by the panel, but I have chosen to defer to His Excellency and to await the White Paper as promised because I believe that the governor meant well in setting up the panel and giving us free hand to operate.
“I appeal to His Excellency to continue in that note of sincerity,” said the Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
“There is no minority report from the panel as the report submitted to the governor on November 15, 2021, was unanimously endorsed by all members of the panel, who worked tirelessly, day and night, to serve the government and the people, even at great risks to their health, personal safety, career and family obligations, and their general well-being.
“I’m very sure that panel members would have been lionised to the highest heavens if we had bought into the narrative of the government before the panel that it was criminals, cultists, hoodlums, and unknown gunmen that operated at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020.”
Adegboruwa explained that he served on the panel on the mandate of Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who told him on the telephone that he was chosen to represent the civil society.
He said he later requested an approval which was granted in writing, that his appointment was on a part-time basis.
The governor, the lawyer narrated, told him that two members were chosen to represent the civil society on the panel to ensure one of them would always be present at the panel to excuse the absence of the other.
“I accepted the appointment in good faith, to serve the people, to calm frayed nerves at the time, and also to restore normalcy to Lagos State,” he said. “So, at all times, I functioned in partnership with my colleague from civil society, and there was no major sitting of the panel in which both of us were absent.
“I also served on the panel free of charge, from October 19, 2020, when the panel was inaugurated till November 15, 2021, when the panel submitted its report. The government was well aware of my identity, my perspectives, my philosophies and my general convictions, at least since my university days, before it nominated me into the Panel, that I will always say things the way they are.
“All Panel members acted in good faith, independently and in the fear of God Almighty. My principled struggles in respect of toll fee collection started way back from 2011, almost nine years before the Panel was inaugurated.
“Indeed, the governor said that these were the factors that favoured my selection as a member of the panel. Will I then deny myself, forfeit my reputation and discredit my constituency, my colleagues in the Nigerian Bar Association, and comrades in civil society, in order to please anybody or cover up the truth? NEVER!”
According to Adegboruwa, it is improper to subject the report of the panel and the integrity of its members to media trials and attacks.
He added that it would be uncharitable for the same government that urged the panel not to be held down by strict rules of technicalities of law in order to unravel the real truth about the Lekki tollgate incident, to now through its counsel and talk about alleged legal discrepancies to frustrate the good work of the panel that it set up.
“I urge the government to focus on the findings and far-reaching recommendations contained in the report, in order to pursue the laudable objectives of setting up the panel to achieve true healing and reconciliation, instead of seeking to demonise panel members and their report or to evade responsibility,” the senior advocate said.