Following its transition to democracy from an authoritarian military rule marked by gross violations of human rights, Nigeria established the Human Rights Violations Investigations Commission (HRVIC) in 1999. This paper critically examines the contributions of the HRVIC, popularly known as the ‘Oputa Panel,’ to the field of transitional justice and the rule of law. It sets out the process of establishing the Commission, its mandate and how this mandate was interpreted during the course of the Commission’s work. The challenges faced by the Oputa Panel, particularly those that relate to its legal status and relationship with the judiciary, are analyzed in an attempt to draw useful guidelines from these challenges for other truth commissions. Recourse by powerful individuals to the judicial process in a bid to shield themselves from the HRVIC merits particular review as it raises questions regarding the transformation of the judiciary and the rule of law in the wake of an authoritarian regime.