By Tordue Salem
The Independent Investigative Panel on allegations of human rights violations by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other units of the Nigerian Police, has vowed to compel the appearance of two police officers, Mr Obiazo and Mr Uzo Emeana both of SARS Awkuzu, Anambra state before the panel.
The retired Justice Sulaiman Galadima-led panel, vowed to compel their appearance, insisting it will not allow the actions of some lawless police officers to scuttle the course of justice. “The panel is left with no choice but to order the arrest of Mr Obiazo and Mr Uzo Emeana both of SARS Awkuzu, Anambra state over alleged arbitrary arrest and detention of one Mr John Emeka Alozie”.
Reinstating its commitment to its terms of reference, the panel stressed that the two police officers are necessary parties in unravelling what actually transpired between the police and the victim, John Emeka who was alleged to have been unlawfully detained by the police for a long time without prosecution before a court of competent jurisdiction.
In this regard, the Chairman of the panel Justice Suleiman Galadima has directed the police authority to take the necessary action towards ensuring the appearance of the two respondents before the panel without further delay.
The retired Justice of the Supreme Court made this order, after the Police on three different occasions, flouted the order of the panel to produce the above-mentioned police officers before it.
Consequently, the panel has directed its secretariat to ensure that an enrolled order of the panel in respect of the instant case is served on the respondents so that they will not feign ignorance of the existing order.
Justice Galadima specifically directed the IGP and the Anambra state Commissioner of Police to quickly give effect to the production order to enable the panel to arrive at an informed and just decision concerning the allegations made against the policemen.
Before the panel considered making the above order, it has, in Chambers (in camera) thoroughly listened to the submissions of all the parties in the matter including the Nigerian Police Force which was represented by their counsel, Godwin Ijeoma, as well as the complaint, Engr. (Mrs) Nnenna John Alozie and the legal team to the Panel comprising Chino Obiagwu (SAN), Pwadumdi Okoh, and Afolabi Olawale.
During the hearing, counsel to the police, Godwin Ijeoma informed the panel that he travelled to Anambra state in respect of the court order to ensure that the affected police officers are duly informed about the order of the panel summoning them.
According to Ijeoma, he could not meet Officers Obiazo and Uzor and that he made further inquiries to know their whereabouts but the Superior officers at the police station promised to assist in identifying them “which of course will have to follow due process as police is a regimented organization” he noted.
In a related development, at the resumed hearing of the case of alleged torture and extrajudicial killing of one Kenneth Umunna, Justice Suleiman Galadima (rtd) expressed concern about the attitude of police respondents who have chosen not to appear before the panel for cross-examination. The jurist stated this when the respondents have repeatedly refused to appear for cross-examination. “There have been several adjournments at the instance of the respondents and they fail to come”, the Chairman of the panel noted.
Similarly, the police respondents failed to appear before the panel in another petition brought by one Jane Gana. The petitioner, Jane Gana, appeared before the panel on 10th December and in her testimony, narrated how the police arrested and detained her unlawfully.
In the same vein, a Member of the panel, John Aikpopko Martins has also expressed concern, about the unnecessary delay on the part of the police, in ensuring the presence of police respondents before the panel.
He addressed counsel to the police, (Malik D. Taiwo Esq) over the seemingly lacklustre attitude displayed by some 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”.