Nigeria

#EndSARS: Lagos Judicial Panel Of Enquiry Sitting – How It All Went Down Today

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As reported by Editi Effiòng:

I’m at the Lagos Judicial Panel of Enquiry sitting. First observation, they’re late. #

10.24 AM. The panel is still not here. The press and observers are here. NBA President, Olumide Apata is here too.

All waiting.

Almost an hour later, the panel has still NOT arrived.

Discipline is something my parents’ generation always held over mine.

Assuming punctuality is the first indicator of discipline, it’s instructive to note that the young reps have been here an hour before the olds.

11:25 AM someone comes to the mic, announcing the youth reps are here, along with reps from NHRC and NBA.

Youth reps being sworn in, but no sign of the rest of the panel

Rinu Otuala and Temitope Majekodunmi take oath
and take oath

11:55 AM, youth and NHRC reps have since been moved to the panel room. No sign of the panel yet.

The secretariat is arranging the petitions so far received. Most appear to be from law firms.

12:19 PM. That’s when they knocked and walked in super grand like they’ve just done us a great favour.

Chair promptly blames lateness on the swearing in of the youth reps.

Distinguished Nintendo didn’t show up. His seat is empty. Unsurprising, that one.

Barrister Folarin Falana, Esq. is here.

Folarin 'Falz' Falana
Folarin ‘’ Falana

12:25 PM, The first case called. Mr Okoye Agu vs FSARS. Mr. Agu is accompanied by counsel.

Mr. Agu spent 47 days in SARS detention, accused of theft by his boss. He mentions the SARS officers by name and nickname. When his mother and wife came for him, they were both beaten up in his presence.

SARS allegedly took over his home, sold his car and properties.

Mr Ebun Adegboruwa, SAN is asking the petitioner about what efforts they made to enforce the judgement that had been given in favour of Mr. Agu.

Immediately becomes obvious that judgements are hard to enforce by the poor.

The attorney general of the state is here. I’d spoken to him earlier about the video footage from 20.10.2020.

He says the state is determined to do justice on the #LekkiMassacre.

PS: When we spoke, I told him I don’t trust the state’s sincerity on the matter.

The state attorney took his leave, but before then, he raised a procedural question whether counsel stands or sits while speaking.

Personally, a SMH moment.

Next petition. Mr. Ndukwe came in with his mother. He’s wheelchair bound, apparently having been injured by SARS.

An important note – both petitioners are being represented by an attorney who doesn’t know them, or the in-depth details of their cases.

Chairman has immediately adjourned the case toll 03/11/2020 to allow the Commissioner of Police attend the proceedings.

The old mother let out an audible sigh.

The mother showed us a photo of the officer who tortured her son, but begged that we don’t share.

After a couple of case adjournments, the panel has retired for the day.

I have left, angry at so many things. But the biggest cause of anger is how being poor is an obstacle to justice.

Will be donating to the defense fund to get better representation.

One last thing – none of the youth reps asked any questions. Not a single question.

I had hoped the reps would be lawyers. I’m doubly sure now – at least 50% of the youth reps should have a legal background.

During Mr. Abu’s testimony, the retired policeman on the panel asked the obviously poor not-wealthy man if he had petitioned the IG of Police.

That ridiculous question needed to be immediately challenged. But no challenge happened.

I was disappointed.

PS: This is a personal report of the sitting event
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