#EndSARS: Techno Oil MD Testifies At Lagos Judicial Panel

Justice Doris Okuwobi and other members of the Lagos Judicial panel during a sitting on April 30, 2021.

 

The Managing Director of Techno Oil, Anthony Onyeama, on Friday appeared before the Lagos State Judicial Panel on restitution for victims of SARS and other related offences, in deference to a summon issued on him and two other management staff of the company.

At the last sitting of the panel on the petition filed by Prince Sunday Adebayo, the Chairman of the panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi, had granted the request of the petitioner to summon three management staff members of Techno Oil.

Those summoned were the Group Managing Director, Mrs Nkechi Obi, the MD, and Mr Godfrey Okigbo.

The petitioner, a stock investor, had told the panel that he was unlawfully arrested and detained by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) from July 17 to August 10, 2015, without bail with respect to a trumped-up allegation of using a fraudulent cheque to lift four tankers of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) from the Kirikiri Depot of Techno Oil.

He said the allegations were made by the three management staff members of the oil company to the police.

The petitioner asked the panel to summon all three to testify so that he can clear his name and seek compensation from the police for his alleged unlawful arrest and detention.

Led in evidence by the petitioner’s counsel, Adeyinka Omowa, Onyeama said he has worked with the company for 25 years but cannot recall having any business dealings with the petitioner.

“Techno Oil has a standard of about 12 major customers. Most times, some other companies could also pay through the major customers. The customer paid some money and claimed that he was paying through Zedimano,” he said.

The witness added, “A teller came in, claiming to have paid in favour of Zedimano and the manager loaded products, but the cheque did not drop, and on contacting GTB, we were told that the cheque is a dud cheque.

“Then we contacted the police and they arrested Sunday Adebayo. The matter happened in 2008 and I was the MD as of then.

He said from the police information, the petitioner defrauded the company, adding that he does not know if the police have concluded their investigation.

Onyeama was, thereafter, shown some documents by the petitioner’s counsel which he recognised and affirmed his signature on the document and when asked if the documents have been admitted in evidence, he said he does not know because he was not present when the petitioner gave his evidence in chief.

Consequently, the petitioner tendered the documents which were admitted as an exhibit with no objections.

The petitioner’s counsel asked the witness if the real culprit for the fraud had been arrested by the police and he responded that he was not a policeman to know that.

Under cross-examination by the police counsel, the witness admitted writing a petition to the Nigeria Police, saying it was on that basis that the petitioner was arrested.

The police counsel then sought to tender the petition which was not objected to and was admitted as exhibit.

Onyeama also admitted that a member of staff of Techno Oil was invited to the Zone 2 Headquarters of the police, but he could not recollect who made the allegation.

He admitted knowing that his company filed a suit against Adebayo and CSP Ebikwe at the State High Court, noting that it was for the same case of theft.

The witness was shown a copy of the suit filed which he recognised, and the police counsel sought to tender it. It was not objected to.

A fundamental right suit of the three management staff members against the AIG in charge of Zone 2 at the time and Adebayo was also tendered and admitted as exhibit.

Similarly, a copy of the MOU between Mr Olufemi Olusi of Techno Oil and the petitioner dated June 5, 2014, was admitted and marked as exhibit.

The panel, thereafter, adjourned the matter until May 25, 2021.

#EndSARS: Lagos Judicial Panel Continues Hearings With 10 Petitions

File photo of Lagos State Judicial Panel

 

The Lagos State Judicial Panel on Restitution for victims of SARS and other related matters resumed its sitting today with 10 petitions listed for hearing today.

The first petition of Tomori Gbolagbade against the Nigeria Police was adjourned to February 6 at the instance of the police counsel, Joseph Eboseremen, who asked the panel to grant one more adjournment as the police was still experiencing difficulties with tracing the necessary files relevant for the case.

In the second petition of Sulaimon Raheem vs FSARS, the petitioner who walks with the aid of frames continued his testimony from where he stopped at a previous sitting.

He had testified at that sitting that he was shot by one corporal Sunday David sometime in 2016.

Today, he was asked to identify pictures of him taken while he was on the hospital bed and same was admitted as exhibits.

The panel also admitted in evidence an online publication on the police corporal, Sunday David, who was allegedly killed by a mob in the Agege area while trying to save the life of an internet fraudster.

The petitioner further testified saying: “when the corporal shot me, the matter was reported to the police but no one reached out to give me any form of assistance”.

“The doctor said if I want to travel out of the country to get proper treatment so I can walk, I need at least N10million. I’m begging this panel to please assist me. There’s no support from government or the family of the police who shot me”.

Under cross-examination from police counsel, Joseph Eboseremen, the petitioner admitted that he did not personally report the shooting at the police station as he was unconscious immediately after.

He, however, said he was informed that his people reported the matter at Elere Police Station, Orile Agege on the same day, January 10, 2016, before he was taken to the police station.

When asked for a copy of the police report or any other document to support this claim, he said it was missing along with some other receipts as he had been carried about from one hospital to another in search of healing.

As proof of his petition, the petitioner’s lawyer, Sylvester Agih, called a second witness, Raheem Abdulrasaq, who identified himself as an elder brother to the petitioner.

In his testimony, he said, “On 10th January, 2016, I received a call that my brother had been shot by a policeman at Agege area. I asked for his whereabouts and was told he was taken to the General Hospital at Agege. He was given first aid treatment at the Emergency Ward and then referred to Ikeja General Hospital. After treatment there, they referred us to LUTH. He was admitted in the emergency ward and they asked us to do full MRI scan at Mecure in Lekki.

“We took him there in an ambulance and took the results back to LUTH. The results showed his spinal cord was injured and he needed surgery. He was admitted and after treatment for some weeks they discovered that the bullet was no longer in his body as it had penetrated. After months, he was discharged and asked to go for intensive physiotherapist care.

“He couldn’t move his hands or legs. it was like he was paralyzed and we went to the Federal Medical Centre in Abeokuta”.

The panel then admitted Mecure MRI Scan & medical bills as exhibits as well a LUTH report by the Chief Radiographer.

“No compensation has been received. We are still indebted to friends and families who have been offering help”, the witness said.

The panel adjourned further proceedings in the petition till February 16.

In the third petition of Ndukwe Ekekwe vs FSARS, the panel received a letter from the counsel to the petitioner stating his inability to attend sitting because he lost his father and has had to travel for his burial.

The panel then adjourned till February 26 at the petitioners’ instance.

In the 4th petition of Olajide Fowotade, police counsel, Joseph Eboseremen said, “we made candid efforts to reach Dolapo Badmus (who had been summoned by the panel at its last sitting to say what she knows about the case) in Abuja, and we got no response. We went back to the divisions where the petitioner alleged that the incident took place and the officers who are conversant with the issues were said to be on their way, so we asked for a stand down or a short adjournment”.

Panel granted the request and ordered a short stand down.

The next petition was that of Albarka Youth Foodstuff Sellers Association vs Nigerian Police, the panel said it received a letter asking that the petition be withdrawn.

The panel chairman ruled, stating that “upon a letter for a withdrawal of this matter, the withdrawal not being objected to, the matter is accordingly struck out”.

In the 6th petition of Oladoyin Ademola, the petitioner is represented by Sylvester Agi who expressed his readiness to go on.

But the police counsel, Joseph Eboseremen made an objection, stating that “we have an issue, this petition mentions no police officer, no division. It is the duty of the petitioner to help this panel. Police has no less than 300,000 officers across the country and we cant embark on a wild goose chase looking for who is involved.

The petitioner counsel, Sylvester Agi in his response said, “we ask the panel to discountenance the objections because the petition clearly states Dopemu Police Station as well as the date on which the incident happened. We submit that the DPO of the station can identify the officers on duty on the said day and we ask that the petition be allowed on its merits.

The Panel Chairman, Justice Doris Okuwobi said she finds the objection strange. She reminded parties that the panel is a fact-finding body set up to deal with police brutality of citizenry and to recommend restitution. For this reason, the fact that there are no named officers is irrelevant.

She declared the objection baseless and not brought in good faith. It lacks merit and is dismissed. The petition will be heard by the panel.

Thereafter, the panel took a short recess to reconvene shortly after.

#EndSARS: Petitioner Narrates How Officers Allegedly Extorted ₦ 3.2m From Him

Lagos State Judicial Panel (File Photo)

 

A petitioner, Nnamdi Eze, has narrated how officers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) allegedly extorted ₦3.2 million from him.

He disclosed this on Tuesday while speaking before members of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Restitution and Inquiry, set up to investigate issues of police brutality.

Led by his counsel, Kingsley Nwachukwu, Eze said, “at about 1:20 – 1:30 am, there was a knock on my door and I heard shouting, open your door, you are surrounded. When I opened the door, torchlight was flashed in my face and I couldn’t see. I received three slaps and they immediately started asking where is the gun?”

He said even though he couldn’t see the faces clearly, he realised that some of the intruders were uniformed policemen while some others wore mufti.

“They asked for my International passport and I gave them. I was to travel the next morning to Imo state and I usually travel with cash. I had withdrawn N700,000 for my trip to the village. They picked up the money, handcuffed me and drove me out until we got to the FSARS Adeniji-Adele police station. They took me into a cell and the next morning they told me to call my people” he said.

But according to him, his family members refused to show up for fear of being detained. He eventually called a friend.

Read Also: Consider Malaria Symptoms As COVID-19 Until Proven Otherwise – Sanwo-Olu Tells Lagosians

“I called a friend, who also said he could not come alone but he would go to Zone 2 & come with an officer. He came the next day, 12th September and they told him and the officer that I was an armed robber, when he asked for proof, they later said I’m a drug lord, then they later said I’m a yahoo boy (fraudster). They told the officer to go, that they will resolve with me. After he left, they asked me for N2.5 million”.

“They took me to a first bank, in Maryland to make the withdrawal. The cashier called the bank manager who took me into his office and asked if I was under threat. I denied but he wasn’t convinced and he later said there was no such money in the bank.

“They took me to another First bank in Igando and gave me a Gtb account to transfer ₦2million.

“They then asked me to join the queue to withdraw another 500,000 so in total, they took N3.2m from me. They took me back to Adeniji Adele and released me around 6:00 pm. The #ENDSARS protest gave me an opportunity to talk about my experience.

“The FSARS destroyed my business and brought me down. I have come to the panel knowing that justice will be served”.

Under Cross-Examination from police counsel, Cyril Ejiofor, the witness admitted that he did not report the incident to the authorities neither did he file any petition.

When asked if he found out how the FSARs came to pick on him, Eze said, “one of them said, they have informants at the bank”.

According to him, after the incident, he started to withdraw ₦500 thousand from the bank every day, to dissipate all the funds in the account which he said was about ₦7million

The cross-examination also revealed that the account to which the petitioner was asked to transfer ₦2million belonged to one Mr. Yusuf.

The petitioner denied knowing him or doing any business with him.

The police counsel, thereafter, asked the panel to raise a petition against the account so that Mr. Yusuf and/or the bank manager can be summoned as a witness to also testify before the panel.

The case which was one of eight, was then adjourned to February.

Intense Protests Continue As Army Warns ‘Troublemakers’

 

Thousands of Nigerians staged fresh demonstrations on Thursday against police brutality as the army issued a warning against “subversive elements” and authorities banned protests in the capital.

Anger over abuses by the police’s notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) erupted into widespread demonstrations last week, forcing the government to scrap the unit and promise wider reforms.

The protests have largely been peaceful, but Amnesty International said at least 10 people have been killed and hundreds injured in the face of “excessive force” by police.

In a statement early Thursday the military cautioned “all subversive elements and troublemakers”, saying it “remains highly committed to defend the country and her democracy at all cost”.

The Nigerian Army “is ready to fully support the civil authority in whatever capacity to maintain law and order and deal with any situation decisively”, a spokesman said.

In the capital Abuja, authorities announced a ban on protesting on Thursday citing coronavirus restrictions after flag-waving demonstrators headed to the national assembly.

“The unruly conduct of the crowd and manner of demonstrations are in complete violation of the COVID-19 safety protocols,” a statement said.

‘Armed thugs’

In recent days demonstrators have increasingly complained that plainclothes assailants have assaulted them and tried to disrupt the protests.

“Thugs wielding machetes, knives, axes, who we believe are paid most probably by the government attacked protesters on the ground,” demonstrator Princewill Iweajunwa told AFP in Lagos.

“Many were injured, phones, money and other personal possessions robbed.”

Amnesty International said “sponsored armed thugs have so far unleashed violence on peaceful protesters” in a string of locations.

The governor of Lagos condemned the attacks on demonstrators and pledged law enforcement officers would protect them.

Since the protests began, the government has been forced into rare concessions and has promised a raft of measures to try to appease the popular ire.

The country’s police chief announced on Tuesday that the SARS unit was being replaced by a new SWAT outfit, but protesters were quick to reject this and push for more sweeping change.

In response the Nigerian police insisted that no members of the former unit would be eligible for the new one, promising that its officers will be “barred from indiscriminate and unlawful searches”.

The protests have drawn thousands of mainly young demonstrators onto the streets and online in the most concerted show of people power in Nigeria in years.

Crowd-sourced donations have poured in for the largely leaderless #EndSARS movement, supporters said.

One group, the Feminist Coalition, said it had received contributions worth more than $175,000 (150,000 euros).

The collective said it had paid legal fees and medical bills for injured protesters, donated to families of victims, bought food, water, and facemasks for people at demonstrations.

While the protests have rocked mainly Christian southern Nigeria they have not taken off in the predominantly Muslim north of the country.

Crowds there have called for reforms to SARS but not for the unit to be scrapped as it is seen as helping to fight rampant insecurity in the region.

“SARS abuses in the north are limited,” analyst Saminu Dala said.

“In fact, SARS is largely seen in the north as a good security outfit in combatting armed robbery kidnapping and other violent crimes.”

#EndSARS Protesters Storm Government Secretariat, Ibadan

Protesters against police brutality, extortion, and extra-judicial killing on Tuesday morning gathered at the Government Secretariat in Agodi, Ibadan, Oyo State capital.

All adjoining roads to the secretariat were blocked as a result of the protesting activities and a huge number of protesters.

The protesters demanded to be addressed by the State Governor Seyi Makinde.

The Deputy Governor Rauf Olaniyan however addressed the protesters and informed them that Governor Makinde is currently in Ogbomoso.

According to the deputy governor, Makinde is currently in Ogbomosho on a fact-finding mission into the crisis and violent protest which led to the death of least three persons.

Some hoodlums were also reported to have attacked the palace of the Soun of Ogbomosho where property worth millions of Naira were destroyed.

The deputy governor in solidarity with the protesters carried placards and joined voices with them, condemning police brutality and harassment.

See more photos from the protest in Ibadan….

Wizkid, Other Nigerians Protest Against Police Brutality In London

 

Nigerian singer Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun better known as Wizkid, and several Nigerians have staged a protest against police brutality in London. 

The protest took place at the Nigeria High Commission, Thai Square on Sunday with the singer urging Nigerian youths to speak up against ills in the country.

“My people, I want this message to go out to every Nigerian youth. Your voice has been heard,” he added. “Don’t let anyone tell you you don’t have a voice. You all have a voice! And don’t be scared to speak up.”

While reiterating that Nigerians “deserve good government,” Wizkid thanked the protesters for coming out en masse to agitate against police brutality and concluded that “we have achieved our goal.”

READ ALSO: #EndSARS Protesters Arrested By Police Have Been Released, Says Ogun Gov

The protest in London comes after similar agitations had taken place in several cities in Nigeria, calling for the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Police loathed by millions in the country.

But after days of widespread protests, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu,  dissolved the tactical squad.

“The Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police, otherwise known as SARS, is hereby dissolved across all formations, the 36 state police command and the Federal Capital Territory where they currently exist,” the IGP said in a press conference on Sunday, even though he acknowledged reports of extortion and brutality by the force subunit.

“All officers and men currently serving in the unit are to be redeployed with immediate effect.”

According to the IGP,  the protests are “a manifestation of the natural desires of citizens to participate in matters concerning policing and internal security in the nation”.

The police authorities will be announcing new policing arrangements to address the offences of armed robbery and other violent crimes that fall within the mandate of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad later.

Stop Killing Our Children – Women Join End SARS Protest In Agege, Lagos

 

Women in the Agege area of Lagos on Friday joined the End SARS protest.

The women numbering over a hundred marched around, chanting a chorus in the Yoruba tongue.

A closer listen to the chants, reveal that the women were pleading, calling for an end to the killing of their children.

The women asked the government to ensure the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

Their protest comes on the heels of a 72-hour protest staged by youths in Lagos.

The youths who began their protest on Wednesday, stayed up late into Thursday night protesting that the police unit is scrapped totally.

In recent times, the activities of the police unit have come under scrutiny and several members of the squad have been found guilty of using their position of authority to trample on the rights of citizens, especially the youths.

End SARS protests were held in various locations across Nigeria on Wednesday and Thursday, however, while many thought the noontime demonstrations would be all for the day, a group of young people including Mr. Debo Adebayo, a comedian popularly known as Mr. Macaroni, stormed the premises of the Lagos Assembly, asking that the lawmakers pass legislation that will see to the disbandment of the SARS unit in the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).

The youths decried the constant harassment encountered in the hands of SARS operatives, lamenting the rate at which many young creatives are being battered and killed by the ‘ruthless’ police officers in the squad.

Mr. Macaroni and the other youths spent hours at the gate leading into the Lagos Assembly complex, seeking to see Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu who they were told was as expected not in the office at the time.

Officials and other members of the parliament tried to persuade the angry youths to leave and return at dawn, but they held their grounds and insisted that they would not leave till the number one citizen in Lagos addresses them and assures them that they would work to ensure an end if brought to the ‘menace’ that SARS has become in the country.

“If we say we want to see the one that we elected into office, it is not too much,” Mr. Macaroni insisted while addressing an official of the Lagos legislature.

After a long while of waiting which tapered into the early hours of Thursday, the Speaker of the Lagos House of Assembly, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, finally arrived at the scene to address the protesting youths.

Mr. Obasa told the crowd that members of the parliament will hold an emergency meeting on the morning of Thursday to deliberate upon the #ENDSARS concerns.
He promised it will not be a deliberation by only the legislators, as the governor and all other stakeholders concerned will be at the meeting.

The speaker apologized for the ordeal that the youths have been through while staging their protest at the gates of the parliament, and assured them that a lasting solution will be found for the issues that have been tabled.