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.
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.