The Federal Government has backed the Lagos State government’s White Paper on the report of the judicial panel set up to investigate allegations of police brutality and shooting at the Lekki tollgate, promising to take additional action.
It further stated that the trial of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, would not be resolved.
The Lagos State administration rejected major recommendations from the panel’s report on Tuesday, particularly the one concerning security agent shootings at the Lekki Tollgate.
Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, remarked on Channels Television about the White Paper:
“It all depends on the perspective you look at it and the prevailing laws that are in contexts. When you talk about laws that are exclusively applicable to the federation and context of the actual situation, it is not out of place to arrive at a conclusion.
What you make out of it is a function of the applicable laws. What I am saying is not a general statement but about the factual situation of applicability and enforceability.”
In response to the question of whether panels have the authority to probe the Army or the Police, he stated:
“Investigation on its right is all-inclusive. There are, however, limits in terms of applicable laws. You cannot, for example, out rule the possibility of an investigation with regards to the personnel or institutions involved.
If the allegation is about a breach or infraction of state law by a police officer or military personnel, it goes to reason that you cannot overrule the possibility of investigation taking into consideration the undertones of the laws of the state.
But if what is in the contest is a federal law, and by which a state does not have power or jurisdiction, it should accord to common sense and the law that it is only indeed a federal establishment that can conduct wholehearted investigations into such matters.
“So if what is in the contest is the violation of law applicable in the state, and a breach is being viewed with the purpose of ascertaining liability, certainly it is within the powers of the state to investigate. But when what is in the contest is a federal law, and then it is clear the state cannot look into it.
“It is true that the EndSARS generated a lot of interest. What we must take into consideration here is that along the line, there were issues of hate speeches by the youths and other actors even the imposition of dramatic scenes.
There was a need for a comprehensive investigation and this was why states set up panels which have finally resulted in the reports we have now. One key important thing for consideration is that many possibilities cannot be ruled out inclusive of fake news, hate speeches, impositions and drama scenes.”
Malami, when asked if the events of October 20, 2020, were real, said:
“It has been established beyond doubt that some of the things that were alleged to have happened, did not happen. On October 21, 2020, the BBC in a documentary had, in fact, insinuated that possibility.”
On the subject of being killed during the protest, he said:
“I can’t be preemptive when in fact you have a commissioned inquiry set up to ascertain that. I am not in a position to draw a conclusion but I can assure you that we will get the facts on the ground.
It is not about who is involved but what the facts are. My position as the chief law officer is to proffer solution based on facts on the ground.”
In response to the Lagos EndSARS panel’s suggestion that the military not be ordered to sites of civil unrest, Malami said the government will look into the subject further to see if the scenario merited military intervention.