By Taiwo Okanlawon
Mr. Basil Chetal Ejiagwa, a victim of police brutality has passed away after suffering a brain tumor from torture in the hands of officers of the disbanded Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS).
Petitioner’s counsel, Toheeb Olalekan Gazali, told the Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution for Victims of SARS related abuses in Lagos, chaired by Justice Doris Okuwobi, that the petitioner passed away on the 17th of November, 2020.
The counsel further presented one Mr Chukwu Vincent, cousin to the deceased who has his death certificate, other hospitals records and ready to testify on his behalf.
During cross-examination, Vincent revealed that the petitioner was arrested in 2014 on his way back from work, and “taken to Igando Police station where he was jailed for 5 days.
He said he was thereafter transferred to SARS office in Ikeja, where he was further tortured for 9 days, leading to the fracture of his skull.
When the counsel asked what happened to the petitioner while in custody, Vincent disclosed that after the petitioner was released, he had an injury on his head that led to the loss of memory.
“We noticed gashes on his head from where he claimed to have been beaten by police with their guns. We took him to the hospital where we were told he had a brain tumor due to his injuries.
“As time went by, it got worse as he began to lose his memory,” he added.
Vincent added that Mr. Basil was bedridden before he passed for about five to six years.
The counsel, therefore, asked what the family wants the panel to do for them.
Vincent said: “This thing happened in 2014 and he could not do anything, he could not go anywhere. It took five years to get the judgment.
“On behalf of the family of Bassil, I am appealing to this panel to help us enforce the judgment against the police. The judgment was delivered since April 16, 2019 and up till now, we have not heard anything from the police,” Vincent said.
Objecting to the matter, the police legal counsel, Mr Emmanuel Eze stated that, it can’t be proven that the petitioner’s death was directly caused by the torture as it took place a while ago.
The panel admitted as exhibits hospital documents, including a bill of N1m and a doctor’s report; as well as the judgment of the Federal High Court in Lagos awarding N40m damages to the victim.
Lead counsel for the police, Joseph Ebosereme, sought an adjournment to cross-examine the witness.
Justice Okuwobi adjourned to the 4th of December 2020.