A delegation from the American government was in Aso Rock today to express President Donald Trump administration’s concerns about instances of impunity by government agencies, especially in the wake of the violence that trailed #EndSARS protests in Nigeria.
The delegation included the US Assistant Secretary, Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, Bob Destro; US Assistant Secretary, Bureau for Conflict Stabilization Operations, Denise Natali; the Counselor of the US Department of State, Thomas Ulrich Brechbuhl; and the Charge d’Affairs, US Embassy, Kathleen FitzGibbon.
They met with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, to whom they offered America’s collaboration with the Federal Government on upholding human rights and revolving other security challenges like the farmers/herders crisis.
Osinbajo responded with assurances of the Buhari administration’s determination to make the current police reforms “a game-changer” in ensuring an end to impunity in Nigeria.
He highlighted government’s plans to investigate police brutality and prosecute erring police officers, create new State-based Security and Human Rights Committees, as well as provide compensation to victims of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other police units.
According to the Vice President, at least 13 states in the country including Lagos, have since established Judicial Panels “to seek justice and to compensate those whose rights have been breached.”
The Vice-President said: “The concerns around impunity are some of the concerns that informed the establishment of Judicial Panels of Inquiry across states.
“Each state is now required to establish judicial inquiry that will look into cases of impunity, excessive use of force, extrajudicial killings etc., especially by law enforcement agents.
“Aside from two representatives of Civil Society groups, these Judicial Panels will have youth representatives and a representative from the National Human Rights Commission, among others.
“Each State is also required to have what is called the Special Security and Human Rights Committee to ensure that law enforcement and security agencies protect the Human Rights of citizens.
“Government is paying attention. The point we are making is that protests are a means to an end, but they cannot be the end. We are very optimistic that what we have put in place would eventually yield the best possible results for us.”
He also highlighted what he termed false narratives about Nigeria, including the herder-farmer crisis, especially in North Central states, and the politics behind the allegations.
According to Osinbajo, the herder-farmer crisis was exacerbated mainly because of land and resources struggle than from the misinterpreted Christians-versus-Muslim narrative.
The Vice-President welcomed the American delegation’s offer of collaboration with the Federal Government on these issues, hoping that such cooperation will create better understanding of the issues.