Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN) on Wednesday justified the State Government’s White Paper on the Judicial Panel of Inquiry (JPI) on the report of Lekki Tollgate incident, saying the State complied with the laws and the weight of evidence presented in the Judicial Panel of Inquiry to reach a decision on panel’s reports.
He said the positions of the Lagos State Government as stated in the White Paper was not contrary to the panel’s findings, especially the evidence of the Pathologist, Prof. John Obafunwa, who said only three of the bodies that he conducted post mortem examination on during the EndSARS protests were from Lekki, and out of them, only one had gunshot injury.
Onigbanjo spoke during a Morning Show interview programme on Arise Television on Wednesday to discuss the White Paper released by Lagos State Government on the report of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Police Brutality and the Lekki Toll Gate incident of October 20, 2020 in Lagos.
It would be recalled that Lagos State Government in the White Paper released on Tuesday accepted 11, rejected one and agreed on six with modifications out of the 32 recommendations made by the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on the Lekki Tollgate shootings. It also stated that 14 recommendations fall outside its powers and would be forwarded to the Federal government for consideration.
Prior to the release of the White Paper, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu during a statewide broadcast called for harmony and invited youths, especially prominent members of the EndSARS campaigners and members of the civil society organisations to join him in a ‘Peace Walk’ to herald healing of Lagos State.
Onigbanjo said inconsistencies and contradictions in the leaked reports of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Lekki incidents that nine people died at Lekki Tollgate last year made the panel’s finding in respect to deaths at the tollgate unreliable, saying that for a finding that somebody died at a scene to be acceptable, there must be no doubt.
He said: “The position of Lagos State Government is based on the findings of the panel itself. So, it is not that Lagos State Government just conjured things from the air. We went through the report and what we saw particularly in reference to the death of nine persons is that they found the evidence of the Pathologist, Prof. Obafunwa, who conducted an autopsy on all the bodies picked up all over Lagos during the protests, not just at Lekki Tollgate but statewide, credible and there was no evidence to the contrary.
“Prof. Obafunwa said that of all the bodies he conducted autopsies on, three came from Lekki and out of the three only one had gunshot injuries. And the panel then said we believe you, we accept your evidence because there is nothing to the contrary. So, in law, if you put that on the imaginary scale, it means what Prof. Obafunwa said outweighs every other evidence before the panel.”
Onigbanjo also debunked the allegations that the Judicial Panel of Inquiry made no reference to policemen nor took them into consideration.
“They (JPI) issued two reports. The report that leaked only dealt with the issues from the Lekki Toll Gate. There is another report which they issued which was not leaked; that report deals with all the EndSARS petitions that were about 253 in number and of the 253, policemen also brought their own petitions and in that report, the panel awarded a sum of about N36.2million to the policemen who were affected one way or the other by the protests.
“So to be fair to them, they did consider the plights of the policemen too. And even if you look at most of their recommendations, they are for better welfare for the police, better equipment, more training, psychological evaluations, so they took them into consideration,” he said.
The Attorney-General also denied the allegations that Lagos State Government was put under pressure by the Federal Government to discredit the panel’s report, adding that at no time did the State Government encourage personal attacks against any members of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry.
He said: “The Federal Government never put the Lagos State Government under any pressure to discredit the panel or anybody. If you check the records, nobody from Lagos State Government discredited the panel. In fact, they submitted the report on the 15th of November 2021, the Governor praised them and thanked them for the job they did.
“Even yesterday, in his speech, which he made before the White Paper was released, he thanked them again. So, nobody from the Lagos State Government directly or indirectly has sought to discredit members of the panel. We appreciate the job they did for almost 13 months. We do not condone such attacks on anybody.
“I think we have conducted ourselves in such a manner that we strive to always do what is right. We complied with the law; we set up the panel. So, if we didn’t even want the panel, there are so many ways it could have been stopped. They asked for an extension, we gave them. The initial funding was N200million; they exhausted it and asked for more, we gave them.
“We appointed independent-minded people into the panel. And the panel itself said in its report that they give credit to the Lagos State Government for allowing them to be completely independent. Lagos State Government has fulfilled all its promises to the public. We set up an independent panel, we said we will release a White Paper and we did. We have complied with the law all the way.”
Commenting on a few of the EndSARS activists turning down the requests by Governor Sanwo-Olu for a Peace Walk this month, Onigbanjo said the government will persuade Civil Society members to change their minds.
“As regards the issue of some civil society members who have said that they will not participate in the peace walk, of course, the government will seek to persuade them to change their minds, because ultimately we all thrive in peace. There is no government that wants to see a war-torn city, a war-torn State or even a State in which there is so much tension.
“So we will continue to talk to members of the civil society. We will continue to demonstrate the government’s good faith. We will continue to demonstrate the government’s sincerity by showing them all the steps that we have taken in the past 13 months before we arrived at where we are now. It is a continuous engagement.”
Economic: Osinkolu Assures Nigerians Of Better Days Ahead
A financial expert, Dr Olusegun Osinkolu has appealed to Nigerians to exercise patients with the economic team put together by President Bola Tinubu, noting that relief will soon come.
Osinkolu assured that Nigeria will soon witness a great turn around by the time the economic team swings into full action.
“we will heave a sign of relief soon as the story would change for better”.
The Ayede-Ekiti born All Progressives Congress (APC) Chieftain in a statement issued on Friday and released to newsmen, described the appointments of the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Yemi Cardoso and Minister of Finance, Wale Edun as a round peg in a round hole.
Osinkolu, who was a banker of repute, described them as gentlemen and men of integrity, who are masters on their field of appointments.
He commended President Bola Tinubu for the appointments, describing it as well deserved and has raised the bar and shown that competence is the parameter for public service.
“I want to formally thank President Bola Tinubu for considering the duo of the CBN Governor and Finance Minister for their appointment.
I commend his open-mindedness to embrace and usher in vibrant patriots into the national mainstream politics.
“I wish to state that their appointment is not only well deserving, but also falls in line with Mr. President’s penchant for talent discovery that has characterised his bold and giant strides in Lagos state and the nation at large.
“I affirm that this particular appointment is a round peg in a round hole,”he stated.
He urged the duo of the CBN Governor and finance minister to focus on the vision and mission of Mr President, by refocusing through their short, medium and long term measures.
He assured Nigerians that the CBN and it’s Finance ministry under their watch will operate transparent monetary policies, while his administration will not tolerate and work towards correcting the errors made by past administrations.
He further urged the duo to comply with all constitutional duties and ensure that financial policies of the country are of international standard and in support of the Tinubu-led administration.
Senator Natasha lauds NDDC, NLNG partnership on local content
Senator Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan, lawmaker representing Kogi Central senatorial district has commended the pact between Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG), to develop local content capacity.
Both NDDC and NLNG recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to leverage shared aspirations and collaborate on diverse fronts in the delivery of sustainable development projects in the region.
Reacting, Senator Natasha urged NDDC to consider the need to be the primary recruiters of their trained workforce to achieve effective service delivery.
She gave the charge on Thursday during an interactive session between Senate Committee on Local Content and the NDDC Managing Director, Samuel Ogbuku.
As the Chair, Local Content Committee, Natasha tasked the NDDC on the need to not only build capacity and equip their workforce but also engage them efficiently.
“NDDC should consider being the primary recruiters of their trained workforce. Artisans or skilled professionals such as ICT workers can be absorbed by NDDC contractors, which in turn, will enable the commission reach the most vulnerable and neglected youth,” she said.
She also pledged to partner with NDDC on building a database of artisans within the country to strengthen the workforce and by extension achieve microeconomic growth for Nigeria.
“Local Content Committee intends to deploy innovative thinking for positive results, thus, we are building a database of carefully profiled artisans who have been trained by NDDC, SMEDAN, etc.; and work modalities to have the oil & gas companies, as well as government contractors, recruit from the pool of verified workforce.
“This would help curb unemployment by keeping the jobs locally. Such a project would also help the Local content board, NDDC and other agencies monitor and evaluate the performance of our collective capacity-building efforts towards achieving a common microeconomic growth for Nigeria and Africa at large,” she added.
In his remarks, the NDDC MD accepted her proposal and looks forward to a synergy with the Local Content Committee to develop strategies, and in turn, engage trained workforce for employment opportunities.
Update: 2024 Appropriation Bill Passes Second Reading At House Of Reps
The House of Representatives has passed the N27.5 trillion 2024 budget for a second reading.
The House leader, Julius Ihonvbere, on Thursday, November 30, while leading the debate on the general principles of the budget, commended President Bola Tinubu.
Ihonvbere noted that national security and education which got significant allocations will be enhanced if implemented.
He said, “Nigeria will be more secure with the allocation to defence and security. As a teacher, I am impressed by the emphasis on basic education. I am sure that education will be better off this time.”
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