By Sunday Oguntuyi, osogbo
The Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Police Brutality set up by Osun state government on Saturday heard three different petitions filed by members of the public against the brutality of the men and officers of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The panel also granted adjournments to the petitioners and respondents in line with their request to ensure fair hearing.
It also disclosed that it had received another petition, making the petitions before it to be six.
The panel chairman said more petitions were underway.
This is even as a member of the EndSARS protesters, Comrade Adebisi Emmanuel, expressed satisfaction in the hearing process of the panel so far.
The Osun Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Police Brutality, Human Rights Violations and Related Extra Judicial Killings was inaugurated by Governor Adegboyega Oyetola in October 2020 to investigate and unravel all matters relating to police brutality and misconducts with a mandate to come up with recommendations within six months.
In line with the directive, the panel last Thursday commenced its sitting after the admission of five different petitions.
Addressing the journalists shortly after the court session, the Chairman of the Panel retired Justice Akin Oladimeji, said the court had heard three petitions and granted adjournments to both petitioners and respondents based on the circumstances around the petitions.
He said the decision to grant the adjournment was to ensure fair hearing for all parties involved and to strengthen judicial process for justice and equity.
Oladimeji who reiterated the avowed commitment of the panel to justify the confidence reposed in it and deliver on the mandate given to it, said the Panel had begun in full capacity to dispense justice and propose appropriate recommendations to the government after the whole exercise.
He stated further, “We had only three cases today and none of them was heard because they didn’t give evidence to any of the cases. The lawyers sought for adjournment but in the special circumstances of the application, all the petitions had to be adjourned. So, we adjourned the petitions to another dates”.
As to why the Panel granted adjournments to all the cases heard, the Chairman of the Panel said, it is the constitutional right of the petitioner to be given fair hearing in line with the constitutional provisions.
According to him, the provision of the Constitution says, “everyone must be given the opportunity to be heard. If there are special reasons for the cases to be adjourned, they must be adjourned”.
He added: “In the inaugural address that I made, I said no party would enjoy more than two adjournments. In the circumstances, everyone that was given adjournment today has only one more chance of adjournment in their respective cases. It is the fundamental law of the land that they must he given the opportunity to be heard.
“We granted the adjournment because some of them had not been served for instance in the last case we attended to today. The respondents are not residing here in Osun, but in Ogun State.
“Though the incident happened here in Osun, the policemen involved are in Ogun State. So, we have to give an order that Ogun State and Osun State Commissioners of Police and the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 2, be served with the petitions and all the documents filed by the petitioners”.
Oladimeji who expressed satisfaction on the pace of the hearings, said the panel would continue to work hard and deliver on its mandate to complete everything within the stipulated time.
“Before the sitting, we received five petitions. All of them had been enlisted, and as we speak, we have received more. In fact, one was submitted this morning and it has been filed.
“As for us, we are not going to waste time. We shall attend to every petition as it comes because time wasting is not in my character”, he said.
One of the EndSARS protesters, Comrade Adebisi Emmanuel, expressed satisfaction with the process of the hearing since its commencement.
He expressed confidence in the ability of the Panel to ensure fair hearing and justice at the end of the whole exercise.
Emmanuel appealed to the residents of the State, particularly those that had experienced brutality and injustice at the hands of the police to summon courage to file their petitions and forward same to the panel.
“So far so good, the process has been smooth. But I want to encourage everyone not to be intimidated but rather come out en mass with their petitions to the panel.
“I know they will get a fair hearing here and at the end of the day, they will be satisfied with the judgement. Don’t let anyone intimidate you. That is the advice I want to give to the masses.
“I think the government should do the same by encouraging the people to bring their petitions to the Panel”, he added.
On the efforts being put together towards ensuring that the victims of the police brutality get justice, Emmanuel, who is popularly known as “Captain”, said he and his colleagues have been working assiduously to sensitise the people on the need to come out to take maximum advantage of the Panel.
The three petitions mentioned in Court were filed by Alhaji Ayo Dauda Adimu; Mr. Amos Adeyemi and Mr. Elusanmi Kolade.
However, the first petition mentioned was adjourned due to the absence of the petitioner. Likewise, the second petition was equally adjourned on the request of the respondent — the Commissioner of Police who was represented by the OC Legal, Francis Baokun Osei, while the third petition was also adjourned due to the absence of the respondents.