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Lagos Judicial Panel Cautions Police Against Delaying Proceedings

(FILE) Members of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution at a sitting on November 28, 2020.

 

The Chairman of the Lagos State Judicial Panel on Restitution for Victims of SARS associated abuses, Justice Doris Okuwobi, has reiterated that the panel won’t proceed to permit the police waste time by stalling on calling their witnesses, particularly the officers alleged to have been concerned within the numerous instances of abuses earlier than it.

She gave the warning on Tuesday after the counsels to the police, Emmanuel Eze and Joseph Eboseremen, once more sought quick adjournments within the first two petitions heard by the panel.

In the primary petition, Eze continued the cross-examination of a 34-year-old dealer, Ndukwe Ekekwe, who had narrated at earlier proceedings the harrowing particulars of how he broke his backbone someday in 2018 when some policemen connected to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) threw him off a two-storey purchasing advanced at Alaba Market within the Ojo space of Lagos.

He had additionally gone a step additional to provide {a photograph} of the Investigating Police Officer, Hamza Aruba, who allegedly led the policemen to his store in Alaba and supplied the officer’s phone quantity.

But the police counsel had defined that with the disbandment of SARS, it had turn into tough to get the law enforcement officials accused of committing the alleged human rights abuses in opposition to the petitioner.

He additionally stated that the quantity supplied by the petitioner couldn’t be reached.

At Tuesday’s proceedings, the petitioner closed his case whereas the police counsel expressed his intention to name a witness on the subsequent sitting.

In her response, Justice Okuwobi frowned on the transfer to waste the time of the court docket by the police.

She stated, “The panel is not ready to deal with your intent, the panel is ready to go on. We started hearing this petition on November 3 and this is an assignment we have for six months and till date, we have not delivered one judgment because of the excuses and requests for an adjournment from the police.

“We cannot continue at this pace, in as much as the panel is out to do justice, at the moment, we have 210 petitions and if we keep on adjourning, we will be here for another two years and we have not delivered a judgment and that is not the plan of the panel.

“You either conclude your case today or we close it, and we know we are done with this one. We have given you enough time with respect to this time.”

“Justice will be sacrificed on the altar of speed because the panel has an assignment and a defined date of six months.

“For the first three weeks of this panel, we could not move because you were absent. Once you are here with us, the least you can do is make your cases move expeditiously. We cannot continue to wait like this,” the panel chairman added.

After additional submissions by the police counsel on the difficulties of getting the officers concerned, the panel, within the curiosity of justice, determined to grant a closing adjournment to December 8.

In the second petition, a constructing contractor, Olajide Fowotade, had claimed {that a} policeman, merely recognized as Ayo, had overwhelmed him up and knocked out two of his tooth.

He stated the officer accused him of making an attempt to knock him down together with his automobile.

Mr Olajide talked about DPO Akpan of Ketu Police Station, a former police spokesperson, Dolapo Badmus, and the AIG Zone 2 Command, Kayode Aderanti, as different officers who have been conscious of the case.

Again, the police counsel, Eboseremen, claimed that he couldn’t attain any of those officers, neither may he discover any case file for the petitioner on the statements he claimed to have made on the Zone 2 Police Command.

He requested extra time and knowledge to find the officers concerned.

“We have been to Ketu Police Station, made a thorough search and discovered that no such report was made on March 11, 2016.

“We proceeded to Zone 2 and also found that Dolapo Badmus is now in Abuja, the AIG involved has retired and our search shows that there is no such report,” the lawyer advised the panel.

He added, “We could not locate the Ayo the petitioner referred to. We do not want the panel to think we are trying to delay proceedings.”

In her remarks, Justice Okwuobi knowledgeable the events that the panel was served a doc by a member of the general public who has furnished it with info of a policeman, Ayo Odudu.

“It has his phone number and other information showing that he was at Zone 2 and Anti-Vandals in Abuja and he did his police training in Ogere, Ogun State. He went to SARS in Ikorodu before the disbandment of SARS.

“Members of the public have been cooperative and helpful in assisting the public and we welcome many more of such assistance so that we do not waste time waiting for the respondents to get information about officers involved in issues of abuse,” she stated.

The petition was additionally additional adjourned to December 8.

Justice Okuwobi additionally directed the registry to make sure that not less than 50 of the petitions obtained have been served on the police counsel and duly acknowledged by the shut of enterprise on Tuesday.

She acknowledged that this might give them sufficient time in the course of the Christmas holidays to seek for the IPOs and different officers talked about by victims of SARS associated abuses.

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