#Lagos EndSARS Panel Race Against October Deadline After Two Extra Time | The Guardian Nigeria News
The petitioners demand justice, compensation
Barely a year after Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu set up a nine-man judicial panel to investigate police brutality, in particular the activities of the Special Anti-Theft Squadron (SARS) disbanded following the protests October 2020 in Lagos State #EndSARS who would have claimed many lives, Judge Doris Okuwobi (rtd) is still dealing with several petitions from aggrieved victims seeking justice and reparation for crimes committed against them by police officers Nigerian.
While similar panels in other states of the federation have completed their investigations and submitted reports, the Lagos state government has twice extended the duration of the Okuwobi panel.
The Lagos State Judicial Panel on Restitution of Victims of Abuse and Other SARS-Related Issues was established by the Governor on October 19, 2020, with a six-month deadline. But with the deluge of petitions received by the panel, the governor extended the mandate of the panel on April 19, 2021, when it was initially due to end its session until July 19, 2021.
On July 19, 2021, Judge Okwuobi revealed that Governor Sanwo-Olu had granted the panel an additional three months until October 19, 2021. However, recent checks by The Guardian revealed that there were still pending petitions and petitioners seeking justice and the necessary compensation. for several cases of police brutality on them and their relatives. As a result, it is not clear whether the panel may be able to deal with all the petitions pending before it and recommend the necessary actions. The panel is expected to resume its work next week.
In one of the latest topics discussed, a #EndSARS protester, who claimed he was shot dead by police during the October 2020 protest in Lagos, demanded adequate compensation for the bodily injuries and trauma he suffered. suffered after being hit by a stray police bullet. firearm.
Petitioner Kufre Jackson, in his affidavit, told the panel how officers from the Hogan Bassey Police Division in Surulere randomly shot protesters in Surulere on October 12, 2020. Jackson, an engineer specializing in l installing solar panels and CCTV cameras, said he joined the peaceful protesters calling for good governance along Ojuelegba and marched with them to the local government office.
He said that as the protesters approached the public defender’s office, some officers from the Hogan Bassey Police Division tried to stop the protesters from going any further. This ultimately generated heavy traffic on both sides of the road. “At this point I saw officers who wanted to disperse the crowd, they crossed in the middle of the road marking their weapons and ammunition. They started shooting directly at the demonstrators. When I saw the police shooting people, I ran for cover, only to find that I had been hit by a stray bullet in the thigh. A nurse, Chinonso, eventually transported me to Randle General Hospital for first aid treatment. From there, I was transferred to Igbobi Orthopedic Hospital where I was immediately operated on. I was admitted to Igbobi General Hospital for a period of two weeks and had to pay my hospital bills, scanners and medication.
To corroborate his argument, Jackson, through his attorney, presented photographs, videos and hospital receipts to serve as evidence of the incident.
The victim sought justice since no one was questioned for the crime committed against him. He asked the panel to take into account the psychological trauma the incident caused him. He also sought adequate compensation for the injuries he sustained and the trauma he suffered since the incident.
During cross-examination of the applicant, Emmanuel Eze, the police attorney asked whether Jackson was aware that Hogan Bassey’s anti-kidnapping unit had been attacked and that a police officer had been shot dead on the aforementioned date.
“I cannot confirm because after being shot I was fighting for my life,” he replied. Another petitioner, a widow, Olamide Erinfolami, told the panel that Nigerian police killed her husband as they tried to arrest #EndSARS protesters on the Ojuelegba axis.
Following the two submissions, Justice Okuwobi adjourned the case until August 31 for the adoption of the final written addresses. Another petitioner also recounted how the dissolved SARS agents brutalized her and a pregnant woman.
Petitioners Stella Edegwa and Adeola Mukaila, who was allegedly brutalized during pregnancy, in a joint petition, recounted their ordeal.
According to Ms Edegwa, she and the second applicant suffered a “barbaric, brutal and ruthless assault” by three police officers, whom they identified by their nicknames – Tom, Polo and Walter. The police were part of the SARS team at the Tolu Police Station in the Ajegunle region of the state.
Edegwa said suspected SARS operatives took to Mokoya Street in Ajegunle on June 6, 2020, allegedly over reports that some young people were having a party at his residence in violation of COVID-19 lockdown guidelines.
She told the panel that while driving down the street, SARS officers ran into a roadside footballer repairing his broken down car. “Strangely, the police started harassing the young footballer, claiming he was a boy from Yahoo and asking him to hand over his car key. When the footballer refused to hand over the key, the said SARS agents resorted to beatings, among other things using batons and the butts of their rifles. The assault caught the attention of passers-by and some even pulled out their phones to record the incident, ”the affidavit states.
Ms Edegwa said that upon seeing the incident recorded by others, Ms Mukaila, who was five months pregnant at the time, walked out of the salon where she was getting her hair done and pulled out her phone to record the incident. incident.
“One of the officers known as Officer Ade, suddenly attacked the first petitioner, who was five months pregnant at the time, forcibly retrieved her phone (Samsung A10) and pushed her to the ground. inside a drainage.
“Constable Ade also dragged the first petitioner inside the drain and hit her on the stomach several times with his fist. That’s when I intervened screaming at the top of my lungs and shouting at Constable Ade to stop hitting the 1st petitioner because the 1st petitioner was pregnant and was in danger of losing her baby, ”said Mrs. Edegwa.
She said that rather than giving in to her cry, the officer punched her as she tried to save Ms Mukaila from her grip. “The blow took me on the lips with such force and intensity that my upper lips almost split in two. In no time at all, my mouth was covered in blood, which prompted onlookers to advise me to go to the hospital for treatment, ”she said.
Ms Edegwa presented photographs and videos showing the injuries she suffered and those of Ms Mukaila. She told the panel that the case was reported to Zone B Police Station, Apapa, where the case was then transferred to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID) Panti, Yaba. , for further investigation.
She said they had been assured by the investigating police officer, Inspector Samuel, that the perpetrators would be brought to justice.
“Strangely, however, and to this day no investigation has been opened into this and none of the misguided officers have been arrested or charged in court. Worse yet, none of us have been compensated for the physical, emotional and financial injuries suffered by the lost officers, ”Ms. Edegwa said.
She urged the panel to order the replacement of Ms Mukaila’s damaged Samsung A10 phone and to fully investigate the case with a view to prosecuting the misguided officers. The petitioners also asked for compensation for the physical, emotional and financial damage suffered as a result of the brutality. The case is due to continue next week.