Taraba Judicial Panel Of Inquiry Receives 11 Petitions

Members of the Taraba State Judicial Panel of Inquiry hold their maiden session in Jalingo on November 9, 2020.

 

The Taraba State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution for victims of police brutality has received 11 petitions so far.

This was disclosed on Monday by the Chairman of the panel, Justice Christopher Awubra, at the inaugural meeting in Jalingo.

Awubra assured the public of confidentiality and safety of those testifying before the panel, promising that members of the panel would be fair to all parties.

“Let me assure you that the lives of those coming to testify at this Commission will be sufficiently protected as the Judicial Panel will not operate or allow impunity or intimidation of anyone testifying here,” he said.

“Complaints, petitions, memoranda from the public are highly welcomed since we have commenced sittings and we have pledged to look at issues objectively and to pursue justice with every iota of sincerity.

“If you have any issues that need to be heard, we are here for you and we would take it up with the assurance that you will get redress.”

According to the chairman of the Panel, the commission is a closed one where privacy will be given due consideration and only petitions on merit will get justice.

The panel however adjourned to a later date yet to be announced for continuation of proceedings.

The judicial panel of inquiry on police brutality was inaugurated on October 22 by Governor Darius Ishaku.

Absence Of Youth Representatives Stalls Lagos Inquiry

File photo of Lagos State Judicial Panel

 

The Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on police brutality failed to sit on Saturday after members could not form a quorum.

Chairman of the panel and retired Chief Judge of Lagos, Justice Doris Okuwobi said the youth representatives did not show up for today’s sitting.

Their absence may not be unconnected to the freezing of the accounts of 19 individuals and a public affairs company linked to the #EndSARS protests.

According to a court document obtained by Channels Television, Rinu Odulala, a member of the panel was one of those affected.

A source close to the panel confirmed to Channels Television that it views this as a direct attack on the sitting.

This comes a day after a Federal High Court in Abuja granted the request of the Central Bank of Nigeria to freeze the said accounts as filed by the apex bank on October 20.

READ ALSO: Court Grants CBN’s Request To Freeze Accounts Of 19 #EndSARS Protesters

The court order directed the affected banks to freeze all transactions on the accounts for a period of 180 days pending the outcome of an investigation currently being conducted by the CBN.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army has submitted an affidavit to the Lagos State Judicial Panel on police brutality set up by the state government to probe the shooting of #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki tollgate on the night of October 20.

Brigadier General Ibrahim Taiwo, representing the army authorities had been summoned and was already seated.

In the statement already before the panel, he confirmed that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos had requested the intervention of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai to suppress the already brewing violence within some parts of the state.

According to the affidavit, Lieutenant Colonel Salisu Ovada Bello, the Commander of the 65 Battalion was at the Lekki Tollgate and had fired blank bullets into the air in order to disperse the protesters.

The commander explained that no one had died, adding that only two people fainted.

The affidavit also explained that Brigadier General Francis Omata, who was also at the Lekki tollgate, confirmed later that evening that there were no fatalities.

 

Nigerian Army Submits Affidavit To Lagos Judicial Panel Of Inquiry

File Photo of the Nigerian Army logo.

 

The Nigerian Army has submitted an affidavit to the Lagos State Judicial Panel on police brutality set up by the state government to probe the shooting of #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki tollgate on the night of October 20.

Brigadier General Ibrahim Taiwo, representing the army authorities had been summoned and was already seated.

In the statement already before the panel, he confirmed that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos had requested the intervention of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai to suppress the already brewing violence within some parts of the state.

According to the affidavit, Lieutenant Colonel Salisu Ovada Bello, the Commander of the 65 Battalion was at the Lekki Tollgate and had fired blank bullets into the air in order to disperse the protesters.

The commander explained that no one had died, adding that only two people fainted.

The affidavit also explained that Brigadier General Francis Omata, who was also at the Lekki tollgate, confirmed later that evening that there were no fatalities.

READ ALSO: Absence Of Youth Representatives Stalls Lagos Inquiry

Omata noted that live ammunition was not used.

Meanwhile, the panel failed to sit on Saturday after members could not form a quorum.

Chairman of the panel and retired Chief Judge of Lagos, Justice Doris Okuwobi said the youth representatives did not show up for today’s sitting.

Their absence may not be unconnected to the freezing of the accounts of 19 individuals and a public affairs company linked to the #EndSARS protests in which one of them, Rinu Odulala, a member of the panel is said to have been affected.

A source close to the panel confirmed to Channels Television that it views this as a direct attack on the sitting.

This comes a day after a Federal High Court in Abuja granted the request of the Central Bank of Nigeria to freeze the said accounts as filed by the apex bank on October 20.

The court order directed the affected banks to freeze all transactions on the accounts for a period of 180 days pending the outcome of an investigation currently being conducted by the CBN.

How I Spent 22 Days In SARS Custody, Lost Two Pregnancies – Victim Tells Lagos Judicial Panel

File photo of Lagos State Judicial Panel

 

A middle-aged woman, Ndubuisi Obiechina says she lost her two-month pregnancy while being detained for twenty-two days at the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Ikeja, Lagos State.

She disclosed this on Saturday at the continuation of the hearing of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution set up by the Lagos State government to look into allegations of brutality and highhandedness by personnel of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

“For one week, as a pregnant woman, I did not eat, I did not drink. I told them I wanted to go and register for antenatal. They said I should give birth to the child there,” she said.

“I told them the doctors said I don’t need any stress that my kind of body is the body that needs to stay one place. They said, no. Let the baby die. In the process, I lost the baby.

“It was later after the detention, I went to the hospital. They then found out that the baby was gone. We had to wash it off.”

READ ALSO: SARS Detained Me For 47 Days, Extracted My Teeth – Victim Tells Lagos Judicial Panel

Obiechina, who is also the first petitioner in today’s hearing, tendered court judgements as exhibits to the judicial panel.

She informed the panel that a few months after she and her husband were released, Mr Obiechina was rearrested by SARS operatives and taken into custody.

The victim revealed that she was pregnant but lost yet another unborn baby, as a result of the stress and trauma she went through in the process.

After listening to her submission, the Chairman of the Panel and retired Chief Judge of Lagos, Justice Doris Okuwobi admitted as exhibits, the judgements delivered in 2017 and 2020 respectively.

“Judgement in appeal CA/L/178 of 2018 COP and others against Mr Obiechina and another dated March 20, 2020, is hereby admitted and marked as Exhibit B,” she said.

When asked for any other matter to be used as an exhibit, the petitioner’s wife, Ndubuisi, narrated how police authorities extorted she and her husband.

“We also bailed ourselves. When they released us, we bailed ourselves with N250,000 and N150,000 respectively,” she added.

While noting that the SARS operatives also arrested her husband who came to check up on her, the victim said they were put in different cells.

She also revealed how SARS operatives unlawfully took N50,000 in their possession and alleged that they both paid N150,000 and N250,000 cash for their bail.

The victim explained that although the court awarded her N2 million as damages against the police authorities, she is yet to receive the sum.

Obiechina’s remarks come three days after another victim, Okoli Aguwu, accused SARS operatives of extracting his teeth while spending 47 days in custody.

Lagos Judicial Panel Sitting In Lekki Enters Day Three

The Chairman of Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution, Justice Doris Okuwobi hears a petitioner’s submission during the panel’s sitting in Lekki on October 31, 2020.

 

The sitting of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution set up by the state government to look into the allegations of brutality and highhandedness by personnel of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) has entered day three.

At the resumed sitting on Saturday in Lekki, the panel headed by a retired Chief Justice of Lagos State, Justice Doris Okuwobi, would hear four petitions.

The petitions included Okwuchukwu Obiechina Vs the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Olusegun Openiyi Vs the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Francis Idum Vs the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad and Olajide Fowotade Vs the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad.

In the case involving the first petitioner, Mr and Mrs Obiechina, Justice Okuwobi admitted as exhibits the judgements delivered in 2017 and 2020 respectively.

“Judgement in appeal CA/L/178 of 2018 COP and others against Mr Obiechina and another dated March 20, 2020, is hereby admitted and marked as Exhibit B,” she said.

When asked for any other matter to be used as an exhibit, the petitioner’s wife, Ndubuisi, narrated how police authorities extorted she and her husband.

In her testimony, Mrs Obiechina lamented that she was arrested from her school where she spent 22 days in SARS Custody in Ikeja.

While noting that the SARS operatives also arrested her husband who came to check up on her, the victim said they were put in different cells.

In the process, Mrs Obiechina said she lost her two months of pregnancy, adding that her five-year-old child was left with no care.

She also revealed how SARS operatives unlawfully took N50,000 in their possession and alleged that they both paid N150,000 and N250,000 cash for their bail.

The victim explained that although the court awarded her N2million as damages against the police authorities, she is yet to receive the sum.

On Friday, members of the Judicial Panel visited the Military hospital in Falomo, the Ikoyi area of Lagos State.

They were initially denied access but later allowed into the premises after about 30 minutes. The panel also visited a detached building at the back of the hospital.

According to military authorities, the hospital and morgue have been under renovation since October 2019 and have not been in use.

The visit was shortly after the panel went for an inspection at the Lekki Toll Gate, to make more findings concerning last week’s shooting incident.

 

#EndSARS: Ogun Judicial Panel Receives 20 Petitions In Two Weeks

A map of Ogun, a state in south-west Nigeria.

 

The Ogun State Judicial Panel of Investigation probing complaints of police brutality and abuse of human rights by security operatives says it has received 20 petitions within two weeks of its inauguration.

Chairman of the Panel, Justice Solomon Olugbemi (retired) disclosed this on Friday in Abeokuta, the state capital.

According to a statement issued by the panel’s spokesman, Femi Osipitan, Justice Olugbemi assured the people of the state of transparency and openness by the panel.

He said that the panel’s maiden sitting would hold on November 5, adding that subsequent sessions would be Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays by 10am at the Magistrate Court 1, Isabo, Abeokuta.

“The Chairman called on members of the public who have complaints to send in their petitions to the Secretary of the Panel or send online to [email protected] assuring that justice would be served accordingly,” he said.

SARS Detained Me For 47 Days, Extracted My Teeth – Victim Tells Lagos Judicial Panel

A middle-aged man, Okoli Aguwu, says he spent about one and a half months in the detention of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

He disclosed this on Tuesday at the opening session of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution set up by the Lagos State government to look into the allegations of brutality and highhandedness by personnel of the unit of the Nigeria Police Force which has now been disbanded.

Aguwu, who was the first petitioner, told the panel that he was invited to a police station in the Ojo area of the state for some clarification over the disappearance of some goods at his former place of work.

Upon honouring the invitation, he said he was immediately arrested and was handed over to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Ikeja.

“I was like what is going on? And they said there was a complaint against me from my boss that something happened, and goods got missing.

“I said well, my boss has to come here so that we can iron out whatever issues because something like that has happened before and they called me to go back and resume (work), that it was a mistake on their system. After we waited for the whole day, nothing happened. The next day, they brought me back to Ojo from Ikeja, with so much threats.

“My boss did not even show up, then they started beating me, calling me a thief, fraudster and all that. They paraded me round the whole Alaba International Market, they asked me to stand straight in their vehicle, showing my face; they even took me to my church,” the petitioner said while narrating his ordeal in the hands of the security operatives.

He added that he was severely tortured and sustained several injuries in the process, showing some scars to those present at the hearing.

A file photo of SARS officers.

 

‘The Torture Continued’

According to Aguwu, his boss visited the police station in some cases but rather than making efforts to bail him, he kept issuing death threats to him.

The victim said, “When my wife came with my mum, she told me that ‘everything don go o’ (meaning: everything has gone).

“They took over my house, they sold my car, they took over some properties, even my belongings inside my house, my generator, my inverter, phone; and they did not bring any of these things to the SARS (office) for me to see.”

He continued, “What they told me was to write a statement that I embezzled money in my office then as the manager and I said I would do no such thing.

“The torture continued but at the end of 47 days or thereabout, they said they would take me to a magistrate court with the wounds and everything; they even extracted two teeth from my mouth when they suspended me upside down.

“The last time I saw my boss then was when he came and he threatened that if I don’t give him back the goods that got missing or the money equivalent, that I am going to die there.”

Aguwu disclosed that hope of respite, however, began to surface following the intervention of a lawyer in the matter, courtesy of his mother and other relatives.

He stated that the legal practitioner filed a case of fundamental rights enforcement at the Federal High Court in Lagos in 2016, which he won.

“Hounourable Justice Ibrahim Buba, gave a ruling in my favour at N10 million as exemplary damages and till date, I have not heard anything, nothing whatsoever from them,” he said.

After about four years of disobedience to the court order, the petitioner urged the judicial panel to help him get justice in the case.