Lagos Judicial Panel Resumes Sitting After Holidays

A File Photo of the Lagos State Judicial Panel

 

The Lagos State Judicial Panel on Restitution for victims of police brutality and other related matters has resumed its sitting for the year 2021.

At the resumption on Tuesday, the panel had six matters listed for hearing.

In the first petition, the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) represented by its counsel, Rotimi Seriki renewed an application it had previously made twice before the panel, seeking to be permitted to have access to the toll gate plaza for the purpose of evaluating the damage done there for the benefit of its insurance claims.

The counsel said the application became imperative after security agents arrested four persons on the 14th of December, who were in the process of vandalizing and stealing cables, iron rods and solar batteries utilized by the advertising board at the toll gate.

He tendered a police report and photographs of the suspects as proof.

But the counsel to the #EndSARS protesters, Adesina Ogunlana, had strong objections to the application.

He said there was a disconnect as the police report tendered by the LCC counsel should have come from the police who were also represented before the panel.

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Ogunlana also argued that the items listed as being tampered with and sought to be stolen belonged to the media and advertising companies at the toll gate and there was no connection with LCC. For him, the fact that the suspects were arrested showed that the security in place was effective.

He, therefore, urged the court to refuse the application.

The Counsel to the Police, Cyril Ejiofor, aligned with his submissions and asked to be allowed to verify the police report submitted on behalf of his institution.

In his reply, the Counsel to LCC insisted that there is obvious desperation not to allow the company go back to the toll gate.

“It’s a crime scene with millions of people passing there, so what’s wrong with LCC going there to assess the level of damage,” he asked

On his part, the counsel to the Lagos State Govt, Olukayode Enitan (SAN), had no objections to the application.

He urged the panel to allow it so that the infrastructure at the toll gate is not further degraded by vandals.

“Should the panel turn its eye to further destruction of these assets? I think that won’t be fair to every citizen of Lagos,” he said.

The Chairman of the Panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi in a short ruling stood down the matter for the police to confirm the authenticity of the documents tendered by the LCC counsel.

In the second petition, the police witness, DSP Ibrahim Yusuf narrated how a stray bullet hit the deceased, Kudirat Adebayo.

The incident happened on April 4, 2017.

He testified that a team of policemen attached to Mushin Olosa police station while on metro patrol had tried to arrest one Kayode Yusuf.

According to him, when the suspect resisted arrest, the leader of the police team, Inspector Augustine handed over his rifle to one Sgt Chibueze Njoku and then proceeded to drag the suspect into their vehicle.

But with the suspect further resisting arrest, the sergeant who now had the rifle shot sporadically and it hit the deceased, Kudirat.

“The atmosphere at the crime scene became tense and the officers had to return back to the police station. Later they went back to retrieve the body of Kudirat and she was confirmed dead at the hospital,” Yusuf told the panel.

The witness said the case was immediately transferred to the homicide department of the State CID, Panti where he works.

He said after inheriting the case, they moved to arrest all the officers involved and they discovered that the Sgt., having realized the enormity of his offense had fled.

Thereafter, a warrant was issued for his arrest and pasted at his last job, his home, church and everywhere he frequents so he could be arrested if anyone found him.

The panel admitted the warrant in evidence as well as a special police gazette declaring him wanted and the legal advice issued by the Lagos Director of Public Prosecution recommending his prosecution.

At the close of his testimony, the police closed its case and the Chairman of the panel ordered parties to file their closing arguments which is to be adopted on the next adjourned date of January 26, 2021.

In the third petition of Adeyemo Rotimi, the police counsel, Cyril Ejiofor tendered apologies as his two witnesses were absent.

He asked for a short adjournment and the Chairman of the panel granted it for January 26.

He, however, noted that the indulgence of granting the adjournment shall be the last, as the panel is running out of time to complete its job.

In the fourth petition of Felix Lucky, a witness, Mokee Chigozie was called to testify.

He narrated how his colleague and brother, Mr Lucky, a driver and vigilante who resides at Jakande Estate, Lekki, was involved in an altercation with a police officer, Sgt. John Dagbo, attached to the Ilasan Police Division, which resulted in his being allegedly shot by the officer on the 20th of October 2020.

After cross-examination by the police counsel, Cyril Ejiofor, the panel adjourned further hearing in the petition till January 26.

The panel has taken a short break and when it resumes sitting, it will take the remaining two petitions listed for hearing today.

Govt Trying To Buy Time With Judicial Panels – #EndSARS Advocate

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

 

An #EndSARS advocate, Oluwatosin Gbenga, has said that the Nigerian government is trying to buy time with the creation of a judicial panel of inquiry on police brutality nationwide.

Gbenga disclosed this on Thursday during a special end-of-the-year programme which aired on Channels Television.

“There is a lot of reinforcement for people to actually join that particular movement. For us, the government is trying to buy time with this judicial panel that has been set up,” he said.

“The EndSARS protests is actually an explosion of what has been boiling over and over again and the fact that we have many students who are at home during the ASUU strike.”

Despite the protests that crippled commercial activities and left many motorists stranded in Lagos, the FCT and other parts of the country, Gbenga explained that young people were still being harassed, allegedly by men of the Nigeria Police.

READ ALSO: Lai Mohammed Says CNN Report On #EndSARS One-Dimensional, Insists Military Fired Blank Bullets Into The Air

For the #EndSARS advocate, young people want a nation where they can express themselves, exert their freedom of expression and movement.

He noted that as of last week, security operatives still arrested young Nigerian arbitrarily, demanding huge sums of money for bail.

An #EndSARS advocate, Oluwatosin Gbenga speaks during an interview on Channels Television on December 31, 2020.

 

While noting that the judicial panels were meant to address previous cases of police brutality, he called for the end to what he described as institutional corruption.

“For me and for some of us, this is not actually what we wanted. We want a nation where young people will have the opportunity and freedom to express themselves and move out.

“Till last week, we still got calls of police taking people on the streets arbitrarily and asking you to come and pay ₦10,000, ₦20,000 to bail your family members out.

“The real issue has not been addressed. It is the institutional corruption and ethic decadence within the Police Force itself that needed to be addressed,” he added.

Youths had on October 8 staged a nationwide protest after weeks of outrage and anger with videos and pictures showing police brutality, harassment, and extortion in Nigeria.

The protests were led predominantly by young Nigerians in different cities alongside many activists and celebrities.

Following the protesters’ issuance of five-point demand, the Federal Government established a judicial panel of inquiry to address cases of brutality and grant justice to victims.

In response to the public outcry on police brutality, the Inspector-General of Nigeria Police on October 11 dissolved the infamous Special Anti-Robbery Squad.

#EndSARS: Kaduna Judicial Panel Holds Inaugural Sitting, Receives 28 Petitions

Justice David Wyom speaks during the inaugural sitting of the Kaduna State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on December 10, 2020.

 

The Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up by the Kaduna State government to look into the allegations of police brutality has held its inaugural sitting.

Justice David Wyom, who is the Chairman of the panel, informed those present at the first session on Thursday that the panel has received a total of 28 petitions so far from the public.

He gave an assurance that the panel would be fair, transparent, and just to everyone and urged victims of police brutality and other human rights abuses to come forward with their petitions.

Justice Wyom explained why the panel commenced sitting two months after its inauguration and announced that the deadline for the submission of petitions has been extended till January 29, 2021.

Among those who attended the inaugural sitting were the representatives of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Abdullahi Yahaya who is the NBA Chairman in Barnawa, and Sampson Audu who is the NBA Chairman in Kaduna.

Both lawyers, in their presentations to the panel, said they were willing to offer free legal services to petitioners without legal representation.

They also stressed the need for the panel to grant the NBA an observer status to appear before it, as well as for the panel to be fair and just to all petitioners irrespective of their status.

Others present were a retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Lawal Tankoas well as, representatives of the civil society, youths, and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

The state governor, Nasir El-Rufai, set up the panel following the nationwide #EndSARS protests in October during which Nigerian youths called for an end to extra-judicial killings by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) – a unit of the police which has been disbanded.

The panel was inaugurated on October 19 and was given six months to complete its assignment.

Police Presents Witness Against Petitioner As Lagos Judicial Panel Resumes Sitting 

 

The Nigeria Police Force on Friday presented a witness to testify against a petitioner who claimed his properties were sold by operatives of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

At the resumed sitting of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS on Friday in Lekki, the police witness, Cletus Ogbu, was cross-examined while testifying on behalf of the Force.

This comes as a petitioner, Okoliagu Abunike, claimed that he was maltreated by the police and most of his properties were sold by the Force to recover his debt to Cletus during his detention.

He, however, described the petitioner as a thief, a claim the court asked to withdraw immediately.

He was thereafter discharged as a witness in the petition.

Absence Of Police, Representatives Stalls Taraba Judicial Panel Probe

 

The absence of the representatives of the police on Monday stalled the sitting of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry investigating the allegations of police brutality in Taraba State.

At the first sitting held in Jalingo, the state capital, three petitions were mentioned for hearing with their legal aides present, but the police as defendants to the suit were absent.

During Monday’s session, the Chairman of the panel, Justice Christopher Awubra, considered the submission of the counsel to the petitioners and noted the absence of the respondents and their representatives.

He adjourned the hearing of the petitions to Wednesday for the defendants to appear and defend the petitions against them.

“We have considered the submissions of counsels to the petitioners and are mindful of the absence of the respondents and their representatives if any.

“Counsel to the commission has urged the commission to oblige for a further adjournment to enable the respondents or representatives to appear and defend the petitions,” he said.

According to Justice Awubra, justice will be better served when all parties to the petitions are accorded adequate time to make presentations to the hearing of the petitions.

“In this light, therefore, we are prone to allow for a further adjournment in the interest of justice and these petitions are further adjourned to the second day of December 2020 for hearing,” he added.

Just like in other states, the Taraba State government set up and inaugurated the panel to among other things, investigate the allegations of police brutality.

This follows a nationwide protest by youths in many states across Nigeria, which was later hijacked and triggered violence in some parts of the country.

In the wake of the demonstration, the Federal Government bowed to pressure to scrap the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) – a unit of the Nigeria Police allegedly notorious for harassing and extorting Nigerian youths.

‘I Want Help For My Children’s Education’, Petitioner Tells Lagos Panel

Members of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution hold sitting on November 28, 2020 in Lekki.

 

A petitioner, Silifat Adeyemo, has testified against the police, saying her husband was shot by a SARS official on November 28, 2018.

She disclosed this on Saturday while testifying before the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution in Lekki.

“He was a Level 8 official, preparing for promotion, after almost 3 years working for the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA),” she said.

Adeyemo said she expected him back home from work as usual but unknown to her, something had happened at about 6 pm.

“At 10 pm that day, my sister-in-law came to my house and told me my husband was involved in an accident. I thought we were going to the hospital but instead, we went to my family house, that was when I was told that my husband was dead,” the witness said in tears.

At this point, the witness handed over a picture of the husband’s body to the panel and it is admitted into evidence as an exhibit. The panel also admitted in evidence the autopsy report.

READ ALSO: ‘Policemen Beat Me Till I Peed On Myself’: Woman Tells Lagos Panel

She further testified that the SARS Official who shot her husband is one Olonode Olakunle.

According to the petitioner, to get to her business every day she still passes the route where her husband was killed and relives the trauma of his passing every time.

In her testimony, she admitted that her husband was a very popular man and after he was killed, boys in the area gathered to beat up the SARS official involved.

The official, she learned he was later rescued by the police.

She however said no punishment to the SARS officer can bring her husband back.

When asked what she wants the panel to do for her, she said that her husband left her with three children, including a set of twins, adding that his aged parents were also left without their breadwinner.

She called on the panel to help with her children’s education.

During cross-examination, the counsel to the police, Joseph Eboseremen, said that the SARS official involved was not just beaten up by boys and officials of LASTMA, he was also lynched to death.

The counsel also asked if she did not receive a N10m compensation from the Lagos State Government.

Responding, the petitioner agreed that she did but noted that the compensation was not from the Nigeria Police.

When the counsel tries to suggest that this was the compensation agreed on and the petitioner is not entitled to more, the Chairman of the panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi asked him to bring proof of this and adjourned further proceedings till December 11.

‘Policemen Shot Me, Killed My Girlfriend,’ Man Tells Lagos Judicial Panel

File photo of Lagos State Judicial Panel

 

A man, Emmanuel Akomafuwe, has narrated how he and his girlfriend (Adaugo) were stopped by men of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) around 7 pm on April 13, 2019.

He narrated his ordeal when appearing before the Lagos State Judicial Panel on Police Brutality in Lekki on Saturday.

Akomafuwe, who was the first petitioner in today’s hearing, said when he sought to know why they were stopped, an argument ensued and he was shot in the head by a police officer, he later came to know as Inspector Dan Ojo. The Inspector also shot his girlfriend, Adaugo in the stomach and leg.

He alleged that after the shooting, the police officers who six in number took to their heels and left them at the scene to die.

He is however lucky that he’s still alive but sad that his girlfriend, later died in the hospital.

“The officers involved are living their lives. Some of them were arrested but they have been released. None of them have been punished,” he said.

“The news of the incident was published in the newspapers and after this, the commissioner of police promised to pay my hospital bills but this did not happen and the police never returned to visit.

“I did scans on my skull and brain at Reddington, and also checked in Dubai. My sanity hasn’t been the same since the incident and I still can’t sleep without pills.

READ ALSO: Sanwo-Olu Names Building After Tinubu, Warns Youths Against Vandalism

The petitioner said he wants the panel to remind the Nigerian Police Force of his case and ensure that Inspector Dan Ojo is arrested and punished. He also wants the police to fulfill its promises and pay his hospital bills.

The Police counsel however asked for more time to enable them to review the petition.

According to the counsel, the police just became aware of the case and many officers are said to be involved, so there’s a need for time to track them.

The panel adjourned the petition to Dec 11 for the cross-examination of the petitioner.

‘Policemen Beat Me Till I Peed On Myself’: Woman Tells Lagos Panel

 

An #EndSARS protester, Felicia Okpara, has testified against the police, saying she was brutalized by officers simply for recording the violence that took place during one of the protests in the Surulere area of Lagos State.

She said this on Friday while narrating her ordeal to the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution.

Okpara told the panel that she had just concluded an interview in the area and was heading back home when she saw the protest and decided to join.

Shortly after, she heard gunshots and people started scampering for safety.

According to her, after running towards a police station, she decided to record the incident but was accosted by a police officer who asked why she was recording and ordered her to stop.

Refusing his orders, the said officer pulled out a gun on her while another joined in and both forcefully dragged herself and another lady to the police station nearby.

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On getting there, several officers including women started beating and punching them. According to her, the beating was so much that she lost control and urinated on herself.

“While the beating was going on, I lost control of my body and my phone fell on the ground and one of them used his leg to smash it because he believed I was recording with it and I was going to pot it on the internet.

“While we were still at that gate, some were coming out, they joined the beating. Dragged me inside, that was where I lost control of my body, I peed on myself. I managed to get a hold of the phone because I knew that was the only thing I had,” Okpara said, fighting back tears.


Watch the full video of her testimony below.

#EndSARS Panel: Police Stall Proceedings, Fail To Produce Accused Officers

File photo of Lagos State Judicial Panel

 

The Lagos State Judicial Panel on Restitution for Victims of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS)  related abuses has frowned at attempts by the police to continue to stall its proceedings.

Speaking on Friday during the continuation of sitting in the Lekki area of the state, the Chairman of the Panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi warned that it will not continue to indulge the police by granting adjournments at their instance if they fail to bring their officers to testify in the petitions filed against them.

Two petitions listed for hearing by the panel today were abruptly terminated owing to the absence of the police officers who allegedly committed the assaults.

At the last proceedings of the panel on the first petition, a 34-year-old trader, Ndukwe Ekekwe, had narrated how he broke his spine sometime in 2018 when some policemen allegedly attached to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad threw him off a two-storey shopping complex at Alaba Market in the Ojo area of Lagos.

As a result of that incident, the petitioner said he ended up in this wheelchair.

READ ALSO: Police Brutality: Lagos Judicial Panel Resumes Sitting

However, today’s proceeding was for the police to cross-examine him and to put in their own side of the story.

Under cross-examination, the petitioner restated his earlier testimony of how the incident occurred, was emphatic that he knew at least one of the officers involved and even went a step further to produce a photograph of the Investigating Police Officer, Hamza Aruba who allegedly led the policemen to his shop in Alaba. He also supplied the officer’s telephone number.

With no objections from the parties before the panel, the picture was admitted in evidence as an exhibit.

The police counsel, Emmanuel Eze, requested a brief break at this point, the expectation was that upon resumption, the police officer mentioned by the petitioner or any of the officers involved in the matter would be called to testify and put in their side of the story.

But this did not happen as the counsel instead asked for a short adjournment.

Following objections raised by the counsel to the Lagos State Government, Olukayode Enitan, SAN on the propriety of granting the adjournment, the police counsel explained that with the disbandment of SARS, it had become difficult to get the police officers accused of committing the alleged human rights abuses against the petitioner.

He also said that the number supplied by the petitioner could not be reached.

This was the exact same situation which played out in the second petition listed for hearing by the panel.

In that petition, a building contractor, Olajide Fowotade had claimed that a policeman, simply identified as Ayo, had beaten him up and knocked out two of his teeth.

He said the officer accused him of attempting to knock him down with his vehicle.

Mr Olajide mentioned DPO Akpan of Ketu Police Station, former police spokesperson, Dolapo Badmus, and the AIG Zone 2 Command, Kayode Aderanti as other officers who were aware of the case.

Again, the police counsel claimed that he could not reach any of these officers, neither could he find any case file for the petitioner on the statements he claimed to have made at the Zone 2 Police Command.

Eze, therefore, asked for an adjournment to enable him to conduct more search and produce the policemen.

Justice Okwuobi did not like this development especially as she noted that the second petitioner had mentioned more than one police officer.

“It does not augur well that the respondent has not contacted the concerned Police officers. The panel will no longer entertain any more excuses from the police,” Justice Okwuobi warned.

She, however, said in the interests of justice and fair hearing, the cases will be adjourned.

Further proceedings have been fixed for Dec 1st and 9th.

Police Ask Judicial Panel For More Time To Study Cases Of Alleged Brutality In Abuja

Counsel to the Police, James Idachaba, asks the Judicial Panel of Inquiry for more time to study the files of cases relating to alleged police brutality during the sitting in Abuja on November 17, 2020.

 

The Nigeria Police Force has asked the judicial panel of inquiry for more time to study cases of alleged brutality in Abuja.

Counsel to the police, James Idachaba, made the call on Tuesday during the resumption of sitting in the nation’s capital.

“I have listened and we will need time to enable me go through some of the processes that are already in the position of the police, if need be because our purpose here is to assist this panel or the commission as it were, to attain the objective of the work of this panel,” he said.

On his part, the brother to a victim of police brutality, Confidence Leera, narrated how an Assistant Superintendent of Police, approached him and demanded the sum of N3million as the balance payment to be made.

Leera who explained that the incident occurred in September 2019, said the police officer wanted to use the money to settle his boss in Abuja over his brother who has been missing for the past one year.

“On September 14, 2019, the ASP Victor Diagbor met me demanding N3million of a balance I was supposed to pay that he wanted to settle his oga in Abuja with the N3million,” he said

“The Edward he arrested said he doesn’t have the N3million. But since he was disturbing that he wanted to go back to Akwa Ibom, Edward now transferred N20,000. All the letters we have been sending to the IGP, IGP has not said anything.”

After listening to both parties, the Chairman of the panel, Justice Suleiman Galadima, adjourned the sitting to November 19 for further hearing.

“The matter is hereby adjourned to November 19, 2020 for continuation. It is also ordered that the victim be produced on that date,” he said.

Lekki Shooting: Soldiers Did Not Report Any Fatality, Army General Tells Judicial Panel

 

The Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry continued its sitting on Saturday with new information about the shooting at the Lekki tollgate uncovered.

While the session was ongoing, lawyers took turns to question the representative of the Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Ahmed Taiwo, on the role of the Force at the tollgate where peaceful #EndSARS protesters had gathered on October 20.

General Taiwo, who is the Commander of the 81 Military Intelligence Brigade, confirmed that soldiers were at the venue of the protest.

He added that the soldiers were briefed before they were deployed to the scene and debriefed after the operation.


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When asked by a lawyer if there was any report of fatality when the soldiers were debriefed, the army representative said, “None”.

He told the panel that the soldiers did not just find their way to the protest ground, insisting that they acted on instruction allegedly prompted by the request of the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, whom he said sought the intervention of the military.

Brigadier General Ahmed Taiwo gives his testimony before the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on November 14, 2020.

 

According to General Taiwo, there are four phases to be followed in the case of managing an internal security situation.

He explained that phases one, two, and three comprised observation, monitoring, training, and readiness for deployment of troops.

“Phase four is the actual deployment to hotspots, places that have problems, patrol, and things like that. We are currently in phase four,” the brigade commander said.

He added, “Before phase four is activated, the governor would have sought permission or made a few calls, or transmitted a letter to the President, or in this case, even to the Chief of Army Staff.

“The governor, indeed, called the Chief of Staff to the President.”

 

Who Gave The Order?

General Taiwo acknowledged that Governor Sanwo-Olu requested the military’s intervention, but did not instruct the soldiers to move to the scene of the protest.

He affirmed that the governor spoke with the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, and the General Officer Commanding 81 Division of the Army.

The brigade commander stated that the governor had initially reached out to the Commander of 9 Brigade, but the military officer does not have the power to deploy troops in such a situation.

“The governor is involved in that decision,” he insisted.

 

General Taiwo also insisted that the soldiers fired only blank bullets containing gunpowder into the air and not directly at the #EndSARS protesters.

He claimed the army arrived at the scene some minutes after 4pm when the curfew was initially meant to take effect and they were at the plaza for about one hour 20 minutes.

“By the time the troops had reached where the cubicles are, I doubt if anybody (the plaza officials) would have been there,” the army representative told the judicial panel.

However, the lawyers could not conclude their questioning before the end of Saturday’s sitting.

The panel, thereafter, adjourned until Tuesday next week.

Lagos Judicial Panel Resumes Sitting After One Week Break  

Members of the Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry arrive for the resumption of the sitting in Lekki on November 14, 2020. Credit: @EditiEffiong

 

The Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry investigating the Lekki tollgate incident and other SARS related issues has resumed sitting after a week’s break following the absence of youth representatives.

Panel chairman and a retired Chief Judge of Lagos, Justice Doris Okuwobi had adjourned on November 7 when its proceedings were disrupted over the inability to form a quorum due to absence of two youth members protesting against the freezing of the bank account of #EndSARS promoters by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The Nigerian Army representative, who was scheduled to testify before the panel then, was unable to do so.

But on Saturday, the youth representatives returned to the panel and proceedings resumed with the panel in a closed-door session.

However, before it went into a closed-door session, the lead counsel to some of the Lekki incident victims, Olumide Fusika raised an issue that the legal document binding the setting up of the panel has not been released to them as the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu only announced it via a press conference and tweets.

Reacting, the lead counsel to the Nigerian Army, Akinlolu Kehinde prayed the court not to allow this to affect today’s proceedings.