Victims of the defunct SARS and other security agencies brutality in Taraba state have asked the Federal Government to cushion the untold hardship they are facing by compensating them.
The victims in their number gathered in Jalingo the state capital and are asking that the same measure meted out to other states across the country should be replicated in Taraba.
The judicial panel which was led by Justice Christopher Awubra was inaugurated on the 22nd of October 2020 to serve for six months and received 34 petitions.
Out of the 34 petitions received, 26 were against the Nigeria Police Force, one against the NSCDC, two against the vigilante group, and three against the Nigerian army. Six of the petitions were withdrawn and struck out, while 28 were successfully heard.
A spokesman for the victims, Ferdinand Kakaba urged the Federal Government to come to their aid.
”To our own understanding, the panel has concluded its assignment and submitted its report, up to now, there is no result from the federal or Taraba State government, we do not know what is going on.
”We are suffering untold hardship, some people died, they left their orphans, widows, while others are still receiving treatment in various medical centres in the country.
”Even among us here, someone was referred to kano, but he cannot go there, because he has no money.
”We have exhausted our energies, so we expect that with the completion of the panel’s assignment the federal government should have responded just like it did in other states.
” We are aware that many states in Nigeria have paid off victims of such atrocities, why is Taraba state different? Where is the problem? That is why we are here to let the whole world and indeed Nigeria and Taraba state to know.
”Maybe the fault might not be from the state government, but it is their responsibility to take care of its citizens.
”At least the federal government should have pity on us, especially with what has been done to us.
”People are suffering, we have been injured, there are lots of problems ongoing, not to even talk of the hardship going on as a result of food scarcity, just treatment alone, is enough for us.
”These are not only the victims that were affected, but some cannot walk, some cannot pay for their transportation fare to this place, that is why few of us are representing them and speaking on their behalf,” Kakaba stated.
The judicial panel on the restitution of victims of SARS and other security agencies brutality in Taraba State ended its sitting on the 17th day of May 2021.
The acting Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Alkali Usman has said that the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) created a vacuum which is challenging efforts by the Police to tackle insecurity in the country from a position of strength.
The acting IGP stated this on Thursday at a presidential briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team at the statehouse in Abuja.
According to him, the aftermath of the EndSARS protest equally dampened the morale of the officers of the force.
The IGP also indicated that the police have recorded successes against secessionist groups and criminals in the southeast.
He noted that prosecution to ensure justice is served has remained a major challenge because of the ongoing strike by judiciary workers.
On the recruitment plan involving 10,000 new police personnel into the force, he disclosed that the process has reached nearly 70 percent completion assuring that the exercise would continue to employ the Federal Character principle.
While granting a further adjournment for the adoption of final addresses in the first petition of Francis Idum VS FSARS, the Chairman of the panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi warned lawyers to file their documents timeously. She said the panel had very little time left for its assignment and could not afford to be too liberal or magnanimous in granting adjournments when counsel fail to do what is expected of them.
In the second petition, involving late Rasheed Kareem, two witnesses testified on behalf of the family, the brother of the deceased, Olalekan Bankole whose testimony was closely followed by that of Imam Taofeek, who described himself as the best friend of the deceased.
The panel watched a video tendered in evidence by the petitioners of how the late Rasheed was allegedly shot by policemen said to be from the Area C police station in Surulere on October 3, 2020.
The Lagos State Judicial Panel on Restitution for victims of SARS and other related matters on Tuesday listed nine petitions, for hearing.
In the first petition of Omeli Humphrey Darlington VS the Nigeria Police, the panel resumed for the adoption of the final written addresses by counsel for the petitioner, Olukoya Ogungbeje and counsel for the respondent, Cyril Ejiofor.
Ejiofor representing the Nigerian Police adopted his final address but contested paragraph 4.3 of the petitioner’s address.
The panel then reserved its decision after saying that it will notify lawyers when same is ready.
The second petition taken was that of Ibrahim Kabiru VS the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS).
Again, Olukoya Ogungbeje represented the petitioner while Cyril Ejiofor was for the Nigeria Police Force.
At the proceedings, the petitioner tendered his documents in response to the written address and document of the police.
In his documents, the petitioner asked the panel to use its powers to secure obedience and compliance with a court judgement of N200 million naira in his favour and granted against the police, but the police counsel stated that the matter is still pending before the Court of Appeal.
The Petitioner counsel, Olukoya Ogungbeje sought to tender the following documents:
(1) An Order of 29th September 2017 between Ibrahim Kabiru vs IGP and others (2) An Order Absolute of the judgement sum of N200 million naira of 9th April 2019 between Ibrahim Kabiru vs IGP and others.
(3) A 1st July, 2019 ruling dismissing the police application for stay of execution of the order absolute
(4) An 18th January, 2019 ruling dismissing the police application to set aside garnishee order.
The police had sought a stay of execution before the Court of Appeal and this was said to have been dismissed on May 7, 2017.
Mr. Ogungbeje also asked the panel to allow the petitioner file his address since the police had filed its address and served same on the petitioner.
The Chairman of the panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi ruled that the petitioner shall submit a written address within three days before adjourning to January 20.
In the third petition of Mrs Tolulope Aminat Openiyi VS the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) the police counsel told the panel that the police officer alleged to have been involved in the case has been transferred.
The counsel says he has initiated signals for the police officer to be released so he can come to testify before the panel.
Since he is yet to get a response, he urged the panel to grant an adjournment.
The counsel to the petitioner, Babatunde Adefila opposed the request for an adjournment and instead asked the panel to foreclose the right of the respondent to call any other witness. He also asked for the case to be closed because in his opinion, “the matter has been on since October, 2020”.
But the respondent’s counsel asked to be given one more opportunity to produce his witness.
The panel in acceding to the request of the respondent adjourned the matter to January 26.
In the fourth petition of Oladoyin Ademola VS the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS), the Police counsel stated that the petition was nebulous because according to him, the claim by the petitioner that in 2007 he was slapped by a policeman, was not accompanied by the name of the policeman involved.
The jurisdiction of the police station was also not stated and the location was unknown.
Consequently, the police counsel urged the panel not to allow the petition to be heard since the petitioner had failed to provide any specifics regarding the case.
Thereafter, the panel agreed with the police counsel and asked the petitioner to furnish the panel with the specifics of his petition before he would be allowed to proceed.
The Chairman of the panel also informed the petitioner that he could take advantage of the free legal services by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).
The petitioner agreed and the NBA offered to take up the case. Counsel to the NBA, AC Eze then asked for an adjournment to enable him familiarise himself with the facts of the petition.
In acceding to the request of the NBA counsel, the panel adjourned the matter to January 27.
In the 5th case, the petitioner, DR. Faleye Oludare Stephen was absent neither was he represented by a counsel.
With no objections from other lawyers in court, the panel ordered that a hearing notice should be issued to the petitioner before the next adjourned date.
The police counsel, Cyril Ejiofor also told the panel that the presence of the commander of the Lagos State task force would be required in the petition. This made the panel Chairman, Justice Doris Okuwobi to also order that a summons be issued against him.
The petition was then adjourned to January 27.
The 6th petition called was a case involving Akinmade Akinrolabu VS the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS). Again, the petitioner was absent neither was he represented by a counsel.
The panel was informed that the petitioner was bereaved and had sent a request for an adjournment. The panel granted the request and adjourned the petition to February 3.
In the 7th petition between, Chijioke Owoh Vs Inspector General of Police & Others, the police counsel notified the panel that the subject matter of the petition was already before the court but the petitioner’s counsel, Abari O. Abari said that the case had been struck out.
He asked the panel to allow the petition to be heard on its merit.
The Chairman of the panel, Justice Okuwobi asked the petitioner’s counsel to produce before the panel, a copy of the court order which struck out the case.
Until this is done, the panel would not be able to take on the petition.
In view of the development above, the panel adjourned the matter to February 3, for further consideration.
In the 8th petition involving Chukwu Vincent Chukwu, the petitioner adopted his written address but the police counsel objected on the grounds that the institution had not been served a copy of the document.
The petitioner’s counsel, Olukoya Ogungbeje claimed he was not directed by the panel to serve the respondent.
In the address, the petitioner urged the panel to grant his request for the award of N40million naira to the petitioner and his family by the court.
Counsel to the Lagos State Government, Olukayode Enitan (SAN) also adopted his address dated January 12.
The police counsel raised objections and queried the involvement of the learned silk who he said, “ought to be a neutral party in the matter”.
The police counsel also queried the use of the words, “having found this petition established”..in the address of the SAN.
He said the words assumed judgement by the State Government over the petition. The police counsel, therefore, asked the panel to expunge the written address of the Lagos State government counsel or adjourn to enable him respond appropriately.
But Mr. Olukayode Enitan (SAN) countered by insisting that he merely asked the panel to uphold the court judgement on the issue. He also submitted that the position of his client, the Lagos State Government, is focused on justice.
He urged the panel to overrule the objections of the police counsel and to grant him an adjournment to enable him respond to the address.
The petition was subsequently adjourned to January 30, for adoption of addresses.
In the 9th petition, involving a legal practitioner, Mr. Olukoya Ogungbeje VS the Nigeria Police Force, the petitioner who represented himself told the panel that at the last hearing, the submission by the police that the case was ongoing in court was not correct.
He tendered documents to disprove the submission of the police. The petitioner said he a court judgment for the award of N20 million and that no application for stay of execution is pending anywhere and so the matter has been concluded.
The petitioner also claimed that the N20 million court judgement came about as a result of the invasion of his law chambers by the police for instituting a N500 million suit against them. He tendered documents to back up his submission.
The Petitioner asked the panel to allow him file his final written address and serve same on the police.
The police counsel however countered by stating that he filed an application in 2017 for a stay of execution of the court judgment and that the submission of Mr. Olukoya Ogungbeje that there was no application for stay of execution was not correct.
The police counsel also tendered documents to back up his submission and it was admitted and marked as exhibit.
But Mr. Ogungbeje objected to the admissibility of the documents tendered and stated that the cases are different, but the police counsel urged the panel to overrule his objection to the documents.
The panel overruled Mr. Ogungbeje’s submission and admitted the documents as exhibits. The panel then asked the police counsel to also make available to it, his records of the court proceedings before adjourning further proceedings in the petition to February 3.
A 72-year-old petitioner, Humphrey Nwaiwu has demanded N100 million compensation from the Nigeria Police Force over the killing of his 28-year-old son, Henry Nwaiwu, a graduate of the University of Calabar.
Mr Nwaiwu demanded compensation on Wednesday when he appeared before the Panel of Inquiry into cases of alleged brutality by operatives of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Rivers State.
He explained that operatives of the Old GRA police Division allegedly shot his son to death with the allegation that he was an armed robber but it was later discovered that the deceased was innocent.
The Lagos State Government has paid a huge sum of money to forensic experts to unearth the truth of what happened at the Lekki toll gate on October 20, 2020.
This was disclosed by the Chairman of the Lagos State Judicial Panel on Restitution for victims police brutality, Justice Doris Okuwobi, on Tuesday while ruling on an application filed by the Lekki Concession Company.
The LCC is seeking permission to have access to the toll plaza for the purpose of evaluating the damage done at the toll gate in order to commence the necessary repairs.
Justice Okuwobi also disclosed that the forensic experts would have commenced its work earlier but for the holidays which made it difficult for the experts to get access to relevant documents and exhibits which have previously been tendered before the panel.
The forensic examination is expected to be completed within the next 21 days.
“Forensic analysis will clear a lot of issues in the incident of October 20, 2020, and a huge sum has been paid by the Lagos State Government for it. The desire is that the panel will unearth the truth of what happened,” Justice Okuwobi said.
“The application by the LCC for permission to have access to the toll gate must, therefore, await the outcome of the forensic examination”.
The panel, thereafter, adjourned to January 29 for further consideration of the application.
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.
The Lagos State Judicial Panel on Restitution for victims of SARS and other related matters on Tuesday listened to the testimony of a police officer, Hamza Aruna who was fingered as being complicit for alleged human rights abuses.A petitioner, 34-year-old trader, Ndukwe Ekekwe had narrated at previous proceedings the harrowing details of how he broke his spine sometime in 2018 when some policemen attached to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) threw him off a two-storey shopping complex at Alaba Market in the Ojo area of Lagos.
Ekekwe who now uses a wheelchair to move around had specifically identified Sergeant Aruna as the Investigating Police Officer who led the team of officers responsible for his injuries.
The police had disputed this evidence claiming to have a video clip showing that the petitioner jumped and was not pushed.
Though the video evidence could not be played because it was in a format incompatible with the panel’s equipment, the Chairman of the panel has ruled that it should be made available to the petitioner’s counsel. She also said that it will be played at the next adjourned date, December 18.
The panel also listened to the police officer, Hamza Aruna’s version of the events which landed Ekekwe in the wheelchair.
In his testimony, the police officer denied that the petitioner was pushed down from a two-storey building.
He said that Ekekwe was arrested based on intelligence report that he and some others were breaking and entering into other people’s warehouses and shops, with firearms and other dangerous weapons to steal from them. He said the police also discovered that the petitioner was receiving stolen goods.
Haruna who was led in evidence in chief by the Police counsel, Cyril Ejiofor, said that they traced Ekekwe to Alaba market where they successfully arrested him.
“After the arrest, we took him to our office and obtained Ekekwe’s statement under caution. In his statement, he denied using arms but admitted receiving stolen goods,” he said.
“He told us the goods were in his shop so we went and obtained a search warrant from a magistrate.”
The IPO also said that after they had obtained a search warrant from the Magistrate Court, they took Ekekwe, back to Alaba International market where they discovered that he had two other shops and in the process of getting the shop keys from him, the petitioner jumped off the storey building while being handcuffed.
The officer said he was rushed to the Police College hospital in Ikeja, and then the National Orthopaedic Hospital, and finally Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH). At the point of admission, he allegedly confessed to the doctor treating him that it was because he was afraid and didn’t want to tell the police the truth, that’s why he jumped.
Haruna said while Ekekwe was in the hospital, he went to visit him, about four to five times despite threats from the petitioner’s mother that she would throw him down from a storey building.
The Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution, set up to investigate cases of police brutality and other related matters, has adjourned two cases till January 5 and 8, 2021, after some of those expected to appear before the panel failed to show up.
The panel commenced sitting at 11:00 am with only five out of the nine members present.
In the first case listed, the panel was to hear from the Nigerian Army.
On November 30, a Major-General Godwin Omelo was reportedly served a summon to appear before the panel today. But he was absent.
The panel was told that another Gen. Bello couldn’t be served with papers to appear as the service was refused.
The Counsel to the Panel, Jonathan Ogunsanya, has applied that service should be done through the Army’s counsel, Mr Akinlolu Kehinde (SAN).
The Counsel to the Lagos State Government, Olukayode Enitan (SAN) in his submission said the non-appearance of the military may not be unconnected with recent reports on the outbreak of COVID-19 among military high command, which led to the death of a General.
In her ruling, the Chairman of the Panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi ordered that Major General Bello be served through the Army’s counsel while fresh summons be issued to Major General Omelo to appear on the next adjourned date of Jan 8, 2021.
In the second petition involving Adebayo Abayomi, the police counsel, Emmanuel Eze told the panel that the police is still trying to effect the arrest of the officer who allegedly shot Abayomi’s mother.
At the last sitting of the panel on this case, Adebayo had narrated how his mother was shot by men of the SARS sometime in 2017.
He is seeking compensation and justice for his family.
The police counsel asked for a short adjournment to enable it call one DSP Yusuf as a witness.
The panel rises after adjourning the case to Jan 5, 2021.
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.
The independent investigative panel on human rights violations by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad sitting in Abuja has ordered the police to pay the sum of two million naira judgment debt to Dr. Martins Iwuanyanwu for violating his right to access to justice.
At the resumed sitting of the panel on Monday, Justice Suleiman Galadima ordered the police to pay the money immediately based on the judgment of a High Court delivered on July 10, 2020 which the police are yet to appeal against.
The complainant claimed he was denied access to justice and effective remedy by the defunct sars and he obtained a judgment of the court which the police is yet to obey.
The Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution set up by the Lagos State Government to investigate cases of police brutality and extrajudicial killings has commenced its 12th sitting.
At today’s hearing, four petitioners are expected to give their testimonies including a further hearing by Mr. Okoliagu Abunike who had alleged that he lost two of his teeth in an encounter with officers of the now-defunct Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS).
Others include a lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje, Mr Basil Chetal Ejiagwa, and Francis Idum.
The session started with the cross-examination of Mr Abunike by the counsel to the police, Emmanuel Eze.
On October 27, Abunike, a father of five, told the panel that in 2012, The Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) operatives detained and tortured him for 47 days at their Ikeja office, without trial.
According to him, he had been 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 around 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.