Rivers State Executive Council has directed that compensations to victims of acts of violence, torture, brutality, murder and violation of fundamental rights committed by the Nigerian Police should be paid by the police authority or the officers who perpetrated the offense.
The decision was taken after the five-man committee set up by Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, to formulate a draft white paper on the recommendations of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry that investigated brutality and violation of fundamental human rights of citizens by the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, FSARS in the State, submitted its report to the Executive Council at the Government House, Port Harcourt on Wednesday.
Briefing journalists after the council meeting presided over by Governor Wike, Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Professor Zacchaeus Adangor (SAN), stated that compensations to victims of police brutality should be paid by the police authority or the officers who perpetrated the offense and not the state government because the police is not part of the State government.
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“Executive Council has already accepted the conclusion of the white paper committee that compensation payable to victims of police brutality should be paid by police officers who were found culpable or by police authorities because in law there is no way you can hold the State (Rivers) accountable for the acts of police officers who are not agents of the State.
“And so, as far as the issue of compensation is concerned, any compensation payable should be paid either by the police office involved in those acts of brutality or by the Nigerian Police Force.”
The Attorney General, explained that the Executive Council also directed his office to liaise with the judiciary in ensuring that quarterly reports are submitted to his office in respect of provision under the administration of Criminal Justice Law. According to him, some of those provisions require that on monthly basis the Commissioner of Police informs the Attorney General about the number of persons held in police custody and the reasons therefore.
Prof Adangor said council directed that public defenders department be established in all 23 local government areas and officers posted there in order to make access to justice easier for indigent litigants who cannot afford to retain services of lawyers.
“The public defender essentially undertakes litigation on behalf of indigent litigants who cannot afford to retain the services of legal practitioners. And so, executive council has directed Attorney General to ensure that counsel in the Rivers State Ministry of Justice are posted to the 23 LGAS to man the office of the public defenders, so those counsels posted to those LGAS can take up matters by indigent litigants because they can’t afford to retain the services of legal practitioners.”
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The Attorney General further explained that the Executive Council directed his office to publish a white paper based on the recommendations of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry, and transmit same to Police headquarters and the Rivers State Police Command for necessary action.
It will be recalled that following the submission of the report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into alleged acts of violence, torture, brutality, murder and violation of fundamental rights of the citizens committed by officers, men and operatives of the Nigerian Police, particularly the Special Anti- Robbery Squad , F-SARS, in Rivers State, Governor Wike, had constituted a five man white paper committee to study the report of commission and formulate a draft white paper for the consideration of the State Executive Council.