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#EndSARS: We’re unable to trace ‘erring officers’, police lawyer tells Lagos panel

#EndSARS: We’re unable to trace ‘erring officers’, police lawyer tells Lagos panel
November 20
20:30 2020

Counsel to the Nigeria police force, on Friday, stalled the proceedings of the Lagos judicial panel, over failure to produce officers accused of brutality.

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The police requested an adjournment of the proceedings of two petitions — Ndukwe Ekekwe vs SARS and Olajide Fowotade vs FSARS — to enable them find the accused officers.

On the Ekekwe case, the petitioner said he became paralysed after he was pushed from a two-storey building by officers of the now disbanded special anti-robbery squad (SARS).

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.

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Ekekwe exits the hall after adjournment

After questioning Ekekwe on his testimony, Emmanuel Eze, the police counsel, asked for an adjournment, stating that legal team was having difficulties reaching members of the disbanded unit.

He also added that the phone number provided by the petitioner did not go through.

“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,” he said.

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“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.”

On the second petition — the Fowotade case — the petitioner had told the panel on October 31 that a policeman called “Ayo” brutalised him during a traffic dispute which led to the loss of his teeth.

In response, Eze again said the police legal team was unable to reach the accused officer.

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“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.”

Fowotade then challenged Eze’s statement, asking why he wouldn’t know the accused police officer.

“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.

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Fowotade displays photos of himself after being brutalised by men of the now disbanded anti-robbery squad (FSARS)

“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?”

According to NAN, Doris Okuwobi, chairperson of the panel, said the police force was not making enough efforts to defend itself against the allegations made by the petitioners.

She added that the panel would no longer entertain requests by the police to adjourn the hearings.

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She then adjourned both cases till December 1 for continuation.

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