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Osun Judicial Panel of Inquiry begins sitting with five petitions, urges petitioners on truthfulness, honesty, factuality

The State of Osun Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Police Brutality, Human Rights Violations and Related Extra Judicial Killings on Thursday commenced hearing on the various petitions and submissions brought before it by members of the public.

The panel began the hearing with five different petitions submitted by victims of police brutality and other human rights violations.

It will be recalled that Governor Adegboyega Oyetola had on Thursday 22nd of October, 2020, inaugurated a 13-man panel with a mandate to unravel all matters related to police brutality, disbanded officers and men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) among other related cases.

According to the Government, the panel has six months to entertain and complete all the findings, investigations and cases filed before it.

Delivering his inaugural sitting speech at the Council of Obas’ Chamber, Finance Building, Government Secretariat, Osogbo, the Chairman of the Panel, Justice Akin Oladimeji (retired), said the panel had since its inauguration received five petitions and submissions from members of the public.

He noted that the panel was fully prepared to deliver the statutory mandate conferred on it to ensure justice, fairness and equity in all the cases before it.

The retired High Court Judge who said the mandate of the panel was to investigate the brutality of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) against some members of the public, said the panel would not act as a regular court of law where law is strictly applied to cases but rather, function as a fact finding panel.

“This panel is not a regular court of law where law is strictly applied to cases but rather, a fact finding panel. Therefore, it is the duty of every petitioner and in fact all parties who present petitions and defence before this panel to bring all facts and evidence in support of their cases before the panel.

“We are neither prophets nor seers that can see what the ordinary eyes cannot perceive. Every petitioner who has suffered injury or loss wants damages or compensation to be paid to him. This panel is empowered to make recommendation on award of such damages or compensation but we cannot do so unless you come and demonstrate to us how and where you sustained injury or loss.

“It is the fact and evidence that you place before us that we must use to assess the injury victims have suffered in the hands of SARS in each of the cases, and the damages claimed by the petitioners or any other parties as the case may be.

“These are the things that will assist us in our duties, so that we will not therefore appear to be awarding arbitrarily low or high damages or compensation in the eye of the reasonable man”, he added.

The Chairman of the panel urged the petitioners to be truthful and honest in whatever they bring before the panel, noting that the panel could only work on emperical facts.

“In presenting your cases before this panel, we urge the parties and their witnesses to be truthful and honest, as righteousness exalts not only the individual but also the nation and the world at large.

“We are your fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and children and friends; do not be afraid to come and tell us your stories. If you do not want to be heard in  public, we shall make arrangement to hear you without the public.

“We are here to protect the interest of every party who has suffered injury in the hands of SARS, including the dead on whose behalf petitions were filed by their legal or personal representatives.

“We are prepared to visit locus in cuo, i.e places of incidents including mortuaries, graves and graveyards or suspected ones, if need be”, he stated.

osun-state

The Governor of the State of Osun, Adegboyega Oyetola, on Tuesday presented a total sum of one hundred and nine billion, eight hundred and fifty-five million, fifty-four thousand, six hundred and forty naira (N109,855,051,640.00) as 2021 appropriation estimates to the State House of Assembly.

This is even as the Governor unveiled a bumper plan of his administration for the youth segment of the State’s population christened Youth Empowerment, Youth Engagement, Youth Enterpreneuship and Youth Education (4Es).

Christened Budget of Providence, the Appropriation Bill puts recurrent expenditure at N50,620,283,140.00 representing 46 percent, while capital expenditure was N59,234,768,500.00 representing 54 percent.

The breakdown of the budget indicated that the education and health sectors got substantial shares as N10,711,328,430.00 representing 18.08 percent was allocated for education sector while health sector received N10,647,909,910.00 representing 17.98 percent.

Similarly, N4,271,461,870.00 representing 7.21 percent was earmarked for infrastructure sector while Water and Sanitation sector got N4,220,446,550.00.

The sum of N3,404,734,560.00 representing 5.75 percent was budgeted for agriculture sector; N1,134,043,200.00 representing 1.91 percent for Commence and Industry sector; N1,515,122,570.00 representing 2.56 percent for Governance and Administration; N173,035,800.00 representing 0.29 percent for Economic Planning and Budget sector; N167,247,560.00 representing 0.28 percent for Environment sector; and N638,460,000.00 representing 1.08 percent for Social Development and Welfare sector.

Also, N1, 487,110,159.00, representing 2 percent of the total budget has been earmarked for youth related activities.

Furthermore, N134,379,500.00 representing 0.23  percent was budgeted for Security Justice sector and N155,830,830.00 representing 0.62 percent for Information and Communication sector.

It will be recalled that the state government presented a total sum of one hundred and nineteen billion, five hundred and fifty million, four hundred and one thousand and forty naira N119,550,401,040.00 as 2020 Budget which was later reviewed, thus reducing the total size to eighty-two billion, two hundred and twenty nine million and seventy thousand, seven hundred and sixty naira N82,229,070,760.00

Presenting the 30th Annual Appropriation Bill before the members of the State House of Assembly, Governor Oyetola said the 2021 Draft Budget was crafted based on the State of Osun Development Plan (2019-2028).

He said that the appropriation bill was also crafted in line with the Medium Term Sector Strategy (2021-2023); the administration’s manifesto; “Thank You Tour report” as well as the Citizens’ Need Assessment carried out in the 30 Local Governments plus one Area Office of the State.

Speaking on the main features of the budget, Oyetola said inputs were sought from various stakeholders in the process of the formulation of the Appropriation Bill being presented.

He called on the residents regardless of status to support the government in its efforts to jerk up the Internally Generated Revenue.

On his plans to provide jobs and the good life for the citizens and the youth, Governor Oyetola said,  ”Despite the current economic situation, the Government will remain undaunted and resolute to provide sustainable livelihood and economic mainstay for the citizenry, most importantly, our teeming youth population.

”In that direction, I have recently flagged off the commencement of the International Trade Centre, Dagbolu. The Trade Centre, commencing from the next two months, will generate not less than 10,000 new jobs, 80 per cent of which will go to our youths in the State through the Dry Port, Car Marts, sundry commodity merchandises, ware housing and logistics.

”In view of the fact that the youthful population of Osun State is one of the greatest assets of the State in its economic diversification agenda, it is pertinent for Government to mainstream them into the State’s socio-economic activities. Thus, the State is poised to vigorously promote the Youth Export Development Programme (YEXDEP) in the State to enhance the contributions of the State’s youths to the non-oil export sub-sector of the economy.

“To   show   our   government’s seriousness and commitment, a sum of N1, 487,110,159.00  has been earmarked for youth related activities in the 2021 Budget proposal,” adding that the interventions will be in Mining, Agriculture, and Skills upgrade  and   Entrepreneurship  Development  programme  for youths (supported by MSME/BOI Fund) among others.

He also disclosed his administration’s plan to construct a flyover bridge at the popular Olaya junction in Osogbo, the State capital, in continuation of the government’s massive infrastructure development in the State.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Speaker of the State Assembly, Hon. Timothy Owoeye, said the legislative arm of the State government was impressed by performance index of the 2020 budget, which was 85.4 percent as at September ending, describing it as a laudable feat.

He maintained that the 2020 budget, tagged “Budget of Restoration”, did not betray its nomenclature particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, adding that the government was also able to embark on numerous capital projects, fulfill its obligation and make life meaningful for the people.

He also commended the administration for prompt payment of salaries, pension, and the recent increase in workers’ salaries across the State.

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The Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up by Governor Adegboyega Oyetola to look into cases of alleged police brutality, human rights violations and extra-judicial killings by the operatives of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in the State of Osun will on Thursday, November 12th, hold its inaugural sitting.

The sitting will hold at the Council of OBA’s Chambers, Finance Building, State Secretariat, Abere between the hours of 10:00am and 4:00pm to receive testimonies and evidence from victims of police brutality in the State.

The Panel has consequently requested members of the public to submit Memoranda.

These were contained in a statement signed by the Secretary of the Panel, Kemi Bello, and made available to journalists on Monday in Osogbo, the State capital.

The statement added that, subsequently, the days of the sitting are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday weekly from 10:00am to 4:00pm.

The Panel also directed that Memoranda should be submitted to the Secretary at the Department of Public Publications, Ministry of Justice, State Secretariat, Abere or through e-mail to osunjudicialpanelofinquiry@gmail.com

The Governor of the State of Osun, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola, has approved the release of the sum of One Billion, Two hundred million Naira to offset pension arrears of retired officers of State of Osun civil service.

In a press release signed by the Head of Service, Mr Festus Olowogboyega Oyebade, the sum of Five Hundred and Eight Million Naira of the total sum was approved to pay the pensions of retired civil servants  while an additional sum of One Hundred and Fifty Million Naira was approved to pay retirees under the contributory pensions scheme based on merit and Five Hundred and Forty-Nine Million, Two hundred and Seventy-Six Thousand for Primary School Teachers and Local Government Retirees.

He added that additional Fifty Million Naira was approved for the part payment of the gratuities of retired officers under the old pensions scheme.

According to the release, the list of beneficiaries selected on merit has been pasted on the notice boards of the Ministry of Information and Civic Orientation, the State’s Pension Bureau, and the Office of the Head of Service.

It was also stated that payment of the approved funds will commence Wednesday, 11th November, 2020.

“Governor Adegboyega Oyetola assures all workers, both serving and retired that all efforts will be mustered  to always give their welfare the pride of place it deserves”, the statement added.