Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi has made a case for the recognition and compensation of victims of crime as critical stakeholders in the administration of criminal justice system in the country.
The Governor stated this during the presentation of cheques to victims of police brutality and ENDSARS protest in Ado-Ekiti on Monday.
The compensation amount varied depending of the gravity of claims by the victims, and was based on the recommendations of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry into Allegations of Human Rights Violations Against Police officers including officers of the now defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in the State.
The panel headed by Justice Cornelius Adetayo was set up at the wake of the ENDSARS protest last year, and was given six months to look into cases of human rights violations and make appropriate recommendations to government.
Speaking at the event, Governor Fayemi observed that the judicial system most often get engrossed with the offenders at the detriment of the social, financial, psychological and physical damage suffered by the victim of crime.
While presenting cheques to the first batch of 25 petitioners, Dr Fayemi said the gesture was to provide remedial measures for some of the cases of grave human rights violations brought about by abuse of police powers as well as the violence, loss of lives and destruction of properties occasioned by the protest.
Dr Fayemi, explained that his administration decided to award compensation to victims of the protest before the expiration of the six months tenure given to the judiciary panel, to set in motion processes and systems that would continue to guarantee effective and appropriate redress for victims.
To further strengthen the equitable dispensation of justice and provision of remedy for victims of crime in the State, Dr Fayemi disclosed that his administration is poised on reviewing the State criminal law with a view to ensuring that victims are recognized as important stakeholders in criminal justice system.
The Governor, also disclosed that his administration has published a Charter for victims of crime in the State and it is in the process of ensuring that all state justice institutions, relevant government departments and security agencies mainstream the charter into their operations.
The Charter, according to him, clearly stated government policy on how victims of crime should be treated and support to ameliorate the effect of the injury inflicted on them during the crime.
He further announced that the State House of Assembly has commenced review of the Ekiti State criminal Code Law with the aim of ensuring that the interest of an offender does not over ride that of the victim of the offence.
Dr Fayemi also expressed the readiness of his administration not only to make justice accessible to all but also to actively participate in the ongoing national agitations and conversation on police reforms.
He said, “At the inauguration of the Judicial Panel of inquiry into Allegations of Human Rights Violations Against Police officers including officers of the now defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad, I assured victims of abuse of police powers that they will get justice irrespective of their economic status, ethnic background, gender or any other difference. I also said that any police officer that suffers rights violation in the course of duty would get justice. I am pleased that we are able to honour this commitment today.
“My administration recognizes that enforcing the rights of victims require efficient institutions without which our laws and policies may not be sustainable. The Judiciary and the Ministry of Justice are important institutions in this regard. One of our strategic goals for the administration of justice is to have an adequate network of accessible and service oriented courts across all communities in Ekiti State.
“May I once again formally apologise to all the victims of rights violations as recognised by the Judicial Panel for the hurt they experienced and the loss that they suffered. It is my hope that this monetary compensation will contribute to repairing your financial loss and other psychological and physical injuries that you have suffered. Please accept my very best wishes as you continue the process of rebuilding your lives.”
Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of the Judicial panel, Justice Cornelius Akintayo commended the State Government for implementing the recommendations of the panel.
He added that aside monetary compensation, the panel also recommended the employment of some of the petitioners to provide permanent remedy for the injury they suffered in the cause of the protest.
One of the petitioners, Mr Olugbolade Cole who spoke on behalf of others, commended the Governor for his swift response to the petitioners’ cries for justice via timely implementation of the panel’s recommendations.
Cole, a practising journalists said he and the other petitioners felt greatly relieved by the government’s gesture in addition to the justice that was done to their cases.