By Taiwo Okanlawon
The absence of key police officers who were indicted in various petitions made by victims of police brutality in Lagos State stalled the continuation of cross-examination of petitioners by police counsels on Friday.
The police counsels urged the panel to give them more time to make some of the officers who have already retired or transferred available and also study the case files.
One of the two cases adjourned was the case of Ndukwe Ekekwe, a 34-year-old man allegedly pushed from a two-storey building by officers of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the police.
Mr Ekekwe, who has been on a wheelchair after the incident, has had his case adjourned by the panel for the fourth time.
Ekekwe provided the photograph and phone number of one Haruna Hamza, who he said was a member of the SARS team that allegedly arrested him.
However, Emmanuel Eze, the police counsel, stated that the legal team was having difficulties reaching members of the disbanded unit.
“We will apply for a very short adjournment. The reasons are because of the disbandment of SARS and other tactical teams, we have difficulty getting in touch with them. We are in the process of getting there and the phone number that the petitioner provided here did not go through.
“In the overall interest of justice we apply for this adjournment”, he added.
On the second case, the petitioner Mr Fowotade had told the panel at his first appearance on October 31 that a policeman called “Ayo” brutalised him during a traffic dispute which led to the loss of his teeth.
But, Eze again said the police legal team could not trace some of the accused officers because they have retired.
“The petitioner did not mention the surname of Ayo. We could not trace the name to zone 2 where he claimed to have reported the incident. We could not make headway,” he said.
“We need to get the case file of Ayo and his contact. We are constrained to ask for an adjournment because we are without the Ayo or the case file.”
In his reaction, Fowotade asked why the counsel wouldn’t know the culprits
“There was the DPO, Mr Akpan, that took me to the hospital and there is Madam Dolapo Badmus that took me to Kayode Aderanti, the AIG’s office,” Fowotade said.
“How come you do not know the Ayo? Don’t you know the station? Don’t you know the DPO? How come you don’t know Ayo? Is it not the Nigeria police force?
“Madam Dolapo Badmus knows everything. How come you do not know Ayo? Is he a ghost?”
Dorris Okuwobi, a retired judge heading the panel, who frowned at the actions of the police counsels said the panel will not entertain further adjournment in order to meet the 6 months deadline of the panel to submit its report.
PM News gathered that the panel has received over 100 petitions from victims of police brutality, a situation which has placed the panel on a tight rope as to meeting the six months’ time frame within when to submit its report and recommendations to the state government.
The chairperson of the panel, Okuwobi, then adjourned both cases till December 1 for continuation.