The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN), yesterday said the #EndSARS Panel set up by the Lagos State Government was illegal.
Keyamo, who appeared on Sunday Politics, a current affairs programme on Channels Television monitored by THISDAY in Lagos, said it was out of the jurisdiction of the panel to investigate the activities of federal government institutions and officials such as the Nigerian Army and Nigeria Police Force.
Although the minister said he was speaking in his personal capacity as a lawyer and not as a Minister of the Federal Government, he supported the position earlier stated by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
The panel had stated in its report that at least nine persons were killed on the night soldiers and policemen stormed the Lekki tollgate to disperse #EndSARS protesters, describing the incident as a “massacre in context.”
But Mohammed had dismissed the panel report, saying it was fake news.And Keyamo said he was in support of his Mohammed’s submission.
When asked why the President Muhammadu Buhari called for constitution of panels across the states to investigate cases of human rights abuses, Keyamo said he would not answer that 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.”
Speaking on the petroleum subsidy, the minister said the removal of subsidy has become an economic necessity that should not be politicise to enable government provide necessary infrastructures for citizens of Nigeria.
According to him, between 2006 and 2018, the successive administration spent N10 trillion, adding that between 2019 and 2020, the country spent another N3trillion on subsidy.
He said: “As I speak now, we are doing about N200 billion to N250 billion monthly on subsidy. Put that side by side with what we need to spend on infrastructures; roads, hospitals and power, you will discover that our unnecessary spending on subsidy is denying Nigerians of what should go to infrastructures.”