By Patrick Obia and Rachel Idim
After adjourning from November 13 to 19, 2020 to allow the Federal Government (Police) respond to 54 petitions at once, the sitting of the Panel of Inquiry into Police Brutality and Restitution in Cross River State has yet again been adjourned.
The sitting which also started 12 minutes late was adjourned the second time (November 26, 2020) to allow the Federal Government (Police) respond to all petitions tabled against its employees.
The Chairman of the probe panel, Retired Justice Michael Edem in his first speech warned that phones will be seized if it rings and disturbs the panel proceeding.
Fifteen (15) petitions were listed to be entertained but only five (5) were eventually taken. Of the ones taken, two (2) were rejected and three (3) taken.
The Federal Government (Police) was represented by a team of four (4) led by Dennis Tehemba. Tehemba, after announcing his appearance by protested said “the matter should be adjourned as they (Police) need to go through the petitions” served on them.
Tehamba, further submit that the word used in the panel is not stated whether it is Nigerian Police or Ghanaian Police. Hence, the panel have no jurisdiction. However, the Chairman questioned where he is standing; Ghana or Nigeria.
After more than 20 minutes of argument and objections, the Secretary to the panel who is the Attorney General of the State, implored the Federal Government (Police) to apply for a brief instead of wasting the panel’s time on objections so the sitting can proceed.
The Police representatives further brought the issue of jurisdiction to play again as they claimed it needs to be established that those accused of Police brutality are truly Policemen.
The heated argument between the Police, panel and NBA Calabar Branch Chairman, Paul Ibiala lasted for close to an hour. Paul Ibiala claimed that, the Police’s arguments is deliberate and conscious attempt to disfigure the panel and take it aback positing that “it is a time bomb” looking at the situation in the country. He therefore prayed the panel to discountenance the Police pleas.
It became a battle of constitution prowess when Dr. Paul Ibiala took the mic and said, “let me educate Tehemba because he is my junior.”
Those cross-examined include Mrs. Scholastica Ojeka, Mr. Emmanuel Ebe Atah and Barr. Michael Nkanu Isong.
Of the fifteen (15) petitions lined up for the sitting, five (5) were taken and the rest carried over. Out of the five (5) taken, two (2) were struck out on grounds of emotion. “The panel will not entertain emotions and sentiments, the matter is hereby struck out without prejudice,” says Retired Justice Michael Edem, Chairman of the probe panel.
See pictures from the panel which sat at the Ministry of Justice Secretariat Calabar, Cross River State below.