The Senate has taken a step towards compensating the 2020 #EndSARS protest victims. The #EndSARS movement began as a peaceful protest by Nigerian youth against police brutality, explicitly targeting the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit.
However, the protest was later marred by violence when criminals infiltrated it, and the military was deployed in some areas, including Lagos.
During the protest, there were allegations of extrajudicial killings and shootings by the military, although they denied these claims. Amnesty International reported that at least 12 people were killed, and many others were injured.
In response to these events, various states set independent panels to investigate human rights abuses. The National Human Rights Commission in Abuja was also tasked with conducting its own probe.
The bill, titled “A Bill for an Act to Amend the National Emergency Management Agency Act,” was sponsored by Senator Gershom Bassey (Peoples Democratic Party, Cross-River State).
During the lead debate, Bassey explained that the bill aims to create the #EndSARS Victims Compensation Fund.
He said, “Distinguished colleagues, you may recall that as a result of the #EndSARS nationwide protests in October 2020, judicial panels of inquiry were constituted to address the demands of protesters and compensation for verified victims of the #EndSARS protest.
“The findings of the judicial panels of inquiry and the Senate Joint Committee on #EndSARS revealed the killing of protesters, destruction of private and public properties by rampaging hoodlums, who seized and took over the protest, vandalizing and looting valuable assets.
“However, the implementation of the recommendations of all the panels and committees regarding compensation has been very discouraging.”
The lawmaker expressed that the victims have been enduring the ongoing suffering caused by injuries inflicted by criminals during the protest. He stated that creating the fund and implementing the recommendations from the judicial panel of inquiry and Senate Joint Committee on #EndSARS would provide relief to the victims.
“Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, it is my prayer that you support this amendment bill that seeks to bring hope to the victims of the 2020 #EndSARS protest,” Bassey said.