By Bose Adelaja
Victims of Special Anti Robbery Squad SARS, Related Abuses and Other Matters, on Thursday, said they have petitioned the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu to secure a tenure extension from the Lagos State Judicial Panel on Restitution for the victims.
This followed the decision of the state government to terminate the Panel on July 19, 2021, but the victims said out of 20 petitions before the panel, only one had been fully treated, a situation which has forced them to demand for tenure extension till January 2022.
Counsel to the victims and the Chairman Radical Agenda Movement in the Nigerian Bar Association (RAMINBA), Barrister Adesina Ogunlana who said this at a press conference in Lagos State, also threatened that he may be forced to withdraw further participation unless the request is granted.
In his words, ”Sir, kindly take notice that in the event within seven days of the receipt of our letter, if your government fails, refuses or otherwise neglects to give an open and public assurance of an accentuation of our just demands for the wholesome extension of the tenure of the panel, we shall withdraw further participation at the panel.”
According to him, there are twenty petitions before the panel but out of the 16 petitions related to the Lekki shooting incident of October 20, 2020, only five of the petitioners Dabira Adebayo, Kamsiyochukwu Perpetual Ibeh, Nicholas Okpe, Ukala Patric Ayide and Damilola Adedayo have had the opportunity to present their testimonies before the panel while two who had appeared before the panel have had their cases closed.
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The petitioner said he had earlier expressed his grievances to the panel about the tenure extension but unfortunately it expressed helplessness in extending the tenure. ”In the second batch of the cases with the panel involving four petitioners, none of them has been invited to appear before the panel since the submission of their petitions over six months ago. This reality rules out the presence of our address on any of these matters before the panel even as at today,”
Adesina said, ”for more than three weeks now, we have observed that the panel is under a strong self-pressure to get through her proceeding. We would not know the situation of other petitioners and other courses but we know for certain that by the statistics we have given earlier to the effect that only one petition out of 20 from our chambers has been fully treated while only four are partially heard. This means that less than seven per cent of our petitions have been touched by the panel,” he said.
As regards the Lekki shooting, the Counsel also said, ”apart from the individual petitions of our clients, how far can it be said that the Panel has gone with the investigation of the horrendous incident of 20th October, 2020 at the Lekki Toll Gate? We wish to put it on record that when we raised our concerns publicly before the panel, about two weeks ago, about the fact that it would be ending its work in the middle of nowhere, as it were on the 19th July, 2021, the panel expressed its helplessness in extending the tenure. We end this petition by stating that if we are forced to withdraw from further participation, at the panel, for reasons afore, our confident assurance is that history will absolve us,.’ He added.