Judicial panel into shooting, police brutality convenes in Lagos

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LAGOS (Reuters) - The judicial panel investigating police brutality and the shooting of protesters in Lagos convened on Monday, promising neutrality and justice.

Independent investigations into police abuses were a core demand of the protesters who demonstrated nationwide for more than two weeks. Peaceful protests turned violent on Oct. 20, when witnesses and groups such as Amnesty International said soldiers opened fire at protesters, killing some. The army denied its troops were there.

Chair Justice Doris Okuwobi said the panel was independent from government and would ensure justice for victims of police brutality and “for those affected by the unfortunate incident of the shootings by the military.”

Okuwobi said none of the 15 complaints received thus far related to the flashpoint shooting in Lekki.

The panel’s formal proceedings will not begin until Tuesday due to the late appointment of the two youth members, Majekodunmi Temitope Oluwaseun and Oduala Bolatito Olorunrinu.

Nigerian Bar Association President Olumide Akpata said his members would represent complainants pro bono, but had “received only a few calls” related to Lekki.

Protest leaders and others have told Reuters many are afraid of government retribution if they speak about the shootings, but Akpata said some could also be “waiting to see traction” from the panel.

Reporting by Libby George; Editing by Giles Elgood