The Independent Investigative Panel on SARS and other units of the Nigerian Police Force sitting in Abuja, today warned police counsel to stop frustrating panel’s effort in the ongoing hearings saying that time is of the essence in arriving at justice.
John Aikpopko Martins stated this while addressing counsel to respondents (Malik D. Taiwo Esq) over the seemingly lackluster attitude displayed by counsel to the police and other support staff responsible for ensuring that matters before the panel are heard expeditiously.
The respondents have repeatedly failed to appear before the panel and this has not helped anyone, he added.
Expressing his displeasure, the first vice president of the Nigeria Bar Association NBA, who is also the NBA representative on the panel, said “you are trying to frustrate us, handwriting is on the wall”.
He added that counsels to the police are first of all lawyers before being police personnel and that professional ethics are expected of them.
He further stated that counsel to the police owe a duty to the panel to assist it in carrying out the task before it successfully.
The panelist expressed this concern in respect of a case of enforced disappearance, arbitrary arrest, prolonged unlawful detention and access to justice brought before the panel by Alhaji Salihu Suleiman against Supol Christopher of defunct SARS FCT and three others.
In the petition Suleiman had accused the police of arbitrary arrest and prolonged detention of his son, (Lukman Salihu), since 2015, who was at the time, a student of Nasarawa Polytechnic.
The petitioner said his son (Lukeman) left home in Kogi State to resume school, but was however arrested with 11 others in a commercial vehicle at ZUBA and taken into police custody at Force CID Abuja.
He informed the panel that the matter was taken to court where the court awarded NI million compensation in favor of the complainant.
The court also ruled that the victim be released on bail and if found guilty be prosecuted in accordance with the law, which the police according to him has failed to do.
In addition, Suleiman told the panel that he wrote a letter to both the Inspector General of Police and the Attorney General of the federation in 2017 on the same subject matter, but has not received any response till date.
The panel ordered the release of the victim and the appearance of Supol Christopher Onyishi, the IPO in the matter at the time, whose whereabouts counsel to the police could not convincingly tell the panel.
Surprisingly, the affected police officers were absent in the panel when the matter was called today (26th of February, 2021) for police to open their defense.
Consequently, the matter was adjourned till 7th April, 2021 for police to open their defense.
Suleiman is seeking among other reliefs, the sum of N500 Million as compensation for unlawful detention.