By Patrick Obia and Rachel Idim
As different State’s Judicial Panel of Inquiry into Police Brutality and Restitutions, buckle up to meet the six months life span given to them, Cross River State judicial panel is on fast foots as it resumes sitting not less than twenty days from last adjournment to trash out 9 petitions.
The five man panel instead of seven headed by former Chief Judge of Cross River State, Justice Michael Edem (Rtd), in his opening shots said business is business.
“Ladies and gentlemen we welcome ourselves back from the holiday, should I say so or the break if I may still say so or from tourism; we are back for business and business is business we should take our paths very serious; we are a bit behind schedule so we want to cover up everything. There will be no time for re- examination, unnecessary adjournment and applications which are not worthy for us will not be entertained.” He stressed.
The panel kick started with suit no: JUD/PAN/INQ/047/2020 between Mr. Edwin Bassey Effiong and Inspector-General of Police. The counsel to the petitioner, George Jack, Esquire told the panel that the petitioner could not make it because the notification was prompt and he is in a remote village in Akpabuyo receiving herbal treatment and humbly applied the petition be adjourned to next sitting.
The Chairman however discountenanced the application for adjournment and struck out the petition on the basis that the panel does not recognise herbal treatment as evidence and if that should be done, the petitioner should come along with his native doctor as evidence.
Also, in suit no: JUD/PAN/INQ/055/2020 between Mrs. Iquo Edet Nakanda and the Inspector-General of Police. The counsel to the respondent, Otu Ubanga Ubi in his defence said: “My lord we have made contact to get in touch with Sgt. Christopher Bassey and we are reliably informed that the Police officer is on transfer outside the jurisdiction of this panel at this instance, I will be praying this honourable panel if there is still time for us to take one more adjournment to get in touch”.
His prayer was refused with the Chairman ruling that the Police have no defence adding that, since they cannot produce the said Officer, it is a matter of faith (things not seen) and the court does not believe on things not seen hence, the panel cannot worship in such a tabernacle.
“All these are issues of faith; that is believing what is not seen or proven, I will not worship in such a tabernacle, I am presiding over a physical and pragmatic panel therefore I refuse the application. I thereby declare that the respondent has no defence whatsoever. Petition adjourned for our recommendation,” he said.
In petition with suit no: JUD/PAN/INQ/060/2020 between Mr. Bassey Effiong Umoh and the Inspector-General of Police.
The counsel to the petitioner U.O Essien, Esquire informed the panel the case has already been determined by the Cross River State High Court with suit no HC/257/2014 on the 20th day of January 2016 and certain orders made for the bridge of the applicant’s fundemental Rights but he however claim there has been a continuous harassment on the applicant’s life and his life by Sgt. Anthony Eze and asked for monetary compensation.
The Police counsel, Otu Ubanga however disagreed with his learned colleague positing that he is not sure Sgt. Eze who is on transfer to Anambra State will come to Cross River State have a meeting with the petitioner and threatened him but Justice Michael Edem inferred that, one being on transfer doesn’t mean he cannot come back and asked he called Sgt. Eze to order not to threaten the life of learned counsel and his client as he is doing his job.
Ubi though promised to reach out to Sgt. Eze and advise him accordingly. The petition is adjourned for recommendations.
Another petition with suit no: JUD/PAN/INQ/056/2020 between Hon. Mactommmy Eyare Agan and the Inspector-General of Police, saw counsel to the petitioner, O.O Orji pleaded that the petition be adjourned as the petitioner is out of town and had received Short Message Service (SMS) very late the previous day.
Having gone through the petition, the Chairman said the petition was no petition. “The statement of the victim attached here which contains the reason for this demand is no petition and if there is no petition there is no petition, if there is no petition there is nothing to adjourned; petition is hereby struck out”.
Similarly, in suit no: JUD/PAN/INQ/042/2020 between Comr. Benedict Ogrinya A. and the Inspector-General of Police, the counsel to the petitioner O.O Orji appealed to the panel to enforce the court judgement in its petition but the Chairman disclosed that the panel cannot enforce judgement but can only recommend. Petition adjourned for recommendation.
Suit no: JUD/PAN/012/2020 between Emmanuel Ebe Atah and the Inspector-General of Police was adjourned to 16th April for continuation of defence after the Chairman stressed that the panel is not asking the petitioner and his wife to settle their marital issue but he only advised and it is left for them to decide as it won’t stop the hearing of the petitioner’s petition on Police brutality except he decides to withdraw at any given time.
Furthermore, in suit no: JUD/PAN/INQ/040/2020 between Prince Adam Ephraim and the Inspector-General of Police. The Police respondent Otu U Ubi prayed that, Mr. Eyo Ndem (subpoena) give his evidence in the case.
Eyo while narrating what transpired on 13 December 2019 was cut short by the Police lawyer claiming he is a hostile witness but could not state why he said so. The petition was adjourned for recommendation.
In addition, suit no JUD/PAN/INQ/037/2020 between Chief Cletus Agorye and the Inspector-General of Police which was adjourned for defence was adjourned again by request of Chief Cletus counsel to enable them conclude their findings about the case as it’s a case that was investigated since 2005. Petition adjourned for recommendation.
Relatively, suit no: JUD/PAN/INQ/035/2020 between Stephen Effiong Edet and the Inspector-General of Police was adjourned to 16th April, 2021, as the counsel to the respondent informed the panel that he was not served the petition.
The panel which began sitting at about 10:26am, had two petitions struck out and fourteen adjourned for recommendations and continuation respectively.
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