The Independent Investigative Panel (IIP) constituted by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on the directive of the Federal Government to probe rights abuses and other unethical conducts by policemen has suspended its planned resumption.
The reporters learnt that members of the IIP, which was constituted in the wake of the #EndSARS protests, had observed the Christmas and New Year breaks and were expected to resume sitting yesterday.
But when our correspondent got to the panel’s sitting venue, the door to the hall was locked and there was no indication that it would sit.
Upon enquiry, it was gathered that members of the panel refused to resume sitting because they have not been paid their allowances.
A source close to the panel said members were expected to arrive in Abuja at the weekend preparatory to the resumption of the panel’s sitting yesterday, but they were told not to come yet because resources were inadequate.
“The panel has nine members who are from across the country. They come from Lagos, Gombe, Enugu, Rivers and other states. The panel is expected to sit for six months. It has sat for three months, having commenced sitting in October last year.
“The panel has received over 300 petitions and it is still receiving more across the country. It seems Nigerians prefer the panel to those sitting in the states.
“It (the panel) has a lot to attend to, but it is suffering from inadequate funding. That is why it may not resume sitting anytime soon, perhaps until the issue is addressed,” the source said.
But, the NHRC gave a different reason on why the panel suspended its sitting till “a date to be announced later”.
NHRC’s spokeswoman Mrs. Fatimah Agwai Mohammed said the postponement of the panel’s resumption was to enable it put in place measures for compliance with the Federal Government’s COVID-19 protocols.
“It is not true that funding is responsible. We decided to re-adjust the panel’s activities in view of the increasing threat of COVID-19. We don’t want to put our workers, panel members, complainants and their lawyers at risk.
“We have decided to suspend proceedings pending when we are able to put in place all the necessary measures to ensure we operate at no health risk to anybody.
“We are currently also re-adjusting our cause list to reduce the number of petitions to be taken daily, while also working on the duration of sitting daily,” she said.
The NHRC spokesperson also said the commission required additional funding to enable it put in place all it needs to ensure that everyone is safe before the panel resumes sitting.