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In October 2020, Nigerian youth staged a series of nationwide protests. Leveraging social media platforms, young Nigerians demanded an end to the country’s unbearable spate of police brutality. The hashtag #EndSARS was not just a social media trend as it inspired street protests of youths across the country. The approach deployed and the management of the protest was unprecedented. The aftermath was both fertile and fatal. In implementing one of the protests demands, the government set up Judicial Panels of Inquiry (“Judicial Panels”) to investigate allegations of human rights violations by police officers/security agencies and recommend compensations and necessary actions.
While the Federal Government of Nigeria has, on many occasions, made promises and announced efforts at police reform, evidence continues to surface that contradicts these claims – such as the repeated disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). This casts doubts as to whether the said actions are taken at all; if they are, the effectiveness of the actions taken in ensuring police reform in Nigeria. It was yet another story of police brutality – the alleged shooting of a boy in Delta State Nigeria – that irked Nigerian youth and sparked what soon became a global outcry, as Nigerian youth bravely and relentlessly marched on the streets of Nigeria, with those in the diaspora not left behind. The youth put forward a 5-pronged list of demands, calling for the SARS’ disbandment and an end to police brutality. One of the #5for5 demands is a call for establishing independent Judicial Panels in all states of Nigeria to investigate police brutality cases and recommend appropriate compensation for victims. Therefore, this Policy Brief focuses on the Judicial Panels, with key findings on the general and specific issues affecting their effectiveness. It also provides recommended actions to be taken by different actors to ensure the Judicial Panels satisfactorily deliver on their mandate.