By Patrick Obia and Rachel Idim
“I am pleased to announce to you that whatever has a beginning has an end, I think today should be the end of our sitting. I came, I saw and I conquered. Let’s not say it’s a good end but a beautiful end. The panel has been one of its best in the country; we have taken into consideration human rights, we have given everybody a clear chance; we have not denied anybody any fair opportunity to present his or her case.”
The above is the parting words of the Chairman, Cross River State Judicial Panel of Inquiry into Police Brutality and Restitutions, Justice Michael Edem (Rtd), as the panel ended sitting after 162 days, 24 weeks and 6 months.
The probe panel which began sitting November 11, 2020, had a total of sixty (60) petitions with forty two (42) petitions adjourned for recommendations and eighteen (18) struck out.
In the sitting that was said to be the last, eleven (11) petitions were entertained with the Chairman vehemently refusing any further adjournment for defence or continuation.
Twenty minutes into the sitting, the Chairman who dressed on Navy blue Senator and his Yoruba-like cap, started bleeding from an injury from his left leg (foot) and was rushed out for treatment.
He was deputized by Hon. Justice Eno Ebri. However, Justice Michael (Rtd), returned at about 12:18pm with one petition left on the itinerary.
The State Attorney General, Tanko Ashang while giving a valedatory speech lauded petitioners and lawyers whom he said, conducted themselves in orderly manner.
He applauded the media for “excellent reportage throughout the sitting.”
The Chairman, in his Shakespearean sayings, said the panel which is one of the best in the 36 States, has done a great job because they came, saw and conquered even though many lawyers had said many negative things about the panel.
He further added that, though they have made the recommendations but do not know what the entitlements will be stressing that, the ball is now in the court of the Government who set them up.
“I feel fulfilled. These are the kind of things I like to do, to be of use to humanity and everything about mankind which this panel basically is all about. I came, I saw and I conquered. Let’s not say it’s a good end but a beautiful end. We had challenges of course as expected from any human institution. You make the iron hot by strengthening but it is better to strengthen the iron while it is hot; so the challenge is, I have not given any particular attention to them. I as a Chairman I had not been challenged, my honorable members had not been challenged, there have been that decorum if not for the fact that one or two lawyers made remarks that is unexpected.
“The panel has been one of its best in the country; we have taken into consideration human rights, we have given everybody a clear chance; we have not denied anybody any fair opportunity to present his or her case. We have been patient enough, we have not been tired or been bored by the litigants. This panel has washed better and it shielded. I am sure we have done our best and our best have been fair to us .
“If you ask me what will be my recommendation for any particular case I will tell you though I’m in charge but I don’t know. I’m sure that you will be satisfied with what they will be able to give you because we will give you what you have given to us; we will give you what evidence had given to you. I would not want to play the final game before the semifinal; this is the semifinal, the final is when the white paper comes from the Government. It’s within the discretion of the Government when we submit our recommendations. So, we are expecting nothing but the white paper from the Government,” he expressed.
See pictures below.
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