Keyamo says Lagos judicial panel on Lekki shooting was illegal

The minister submits that the panel had no powers to investigate the conduct of the armed forces.

Festus Keyamo is Minister of State for Labour and Employment (Instagram: @Festuskeyamo70)

Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN), has described the Lagos judicial panel of inquiry into police brutality and the October 20, 2020 shooting of unarmed protesters at the Lekki tollgate, as an illegality.

He adds that the panel had no powers to investigate the military or police.

Asked during a ChannelsTV programme about what he makes of Information Minister Lai Mohammed's dismissal of the report of a Lagos panel whose set-up had the blessings of the federal government, Keyamo said:

“I will not answer this question as a sitting minister. I will answer this question as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria – a member of the Inner Bar, and so I am entitled to my opinion.

"This is not the federal government’s position. From me, that panel was an illegal panel. It was totally illegal.

“All lawyers who are listening to me should go back and read the Tribunals of Enquiry Act of Lagos State. It says that the governor will have the powers to inquire into the conduct of any person – underline any person – and chieftaincy matters and any other matter that will promote the good of the public.

“However, ‘any person’ there was defined in Section 21 to mean public officers of the state. It is defined to mean somebody within the public service of Lagos State or of the local government as the case may be.

“Then, the phrase was used at the end of Section 1 that says ‘any matter’…that they can inquire into any matter. People now think that to inquire into any matter, it means that you can just be at large.

“However, if you look at Section 21 again, it says that it has to be within the legislative competence of Lagos State. In other words, it is only people over whom the Lagos State has control that they can inquire into their conduct. If you don’t have control over me, you cannot inquire into my conduct.

“Policemen, the Armed Forces, military; they are not under or officers of Lagos State, they are officers of the federal government.

"By virtue of the Constitution, it is only the federal government that can control the conduct of policemen and the military. Lagos State cannot be in control; they cannot legislate too, regarding police and military matters; they are on the Exclusive Legislative List.”

Judicial panels of inquiry were set up across the states at the behest of the federal government, in the wake of the October 2020 protests against police brutality.

On November 15, 2021, the panel submitted its report to Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and described what transpired on the night of October 20, 2020 as a "massacre in context."

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