The Lagos State judicial Panel on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters continued sitting on Saturday 12 December, 2020 with the case of Abayomi Adebayo vs Federal Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) listed as the first matter of the day.
When the case was called, the petitioner Abayomi Adebayo entered the dock and Mr. Unyime Eyo announced his appearance as his counsel, but the respondents counsel were absent. The petitioner counsel then requested that the right of the respondents counsel who were to cross examine his client be foreclosed because they were absent. The panel chairman Justice Doris Okuwobi (Rtd.) while noting the absence of the respondents counsel stated that it will be unfair to foreclose their right to cross examine the petitioner as pleaded by the petitioner counsel because of their absence today which was unusual due to the fact that they have always been present at the panel sittings, she thereafter adjourned the matter to 5th January, 2021 for further hearing.
The second matter of the day involved the Nigeria army.
Unfortunately, the army was not present, neither were they represented by any counsel.
However the counsel to the panel, Mr. Jonathan Ogunsanya informed the panel that attempts made to serve a witness summons on Brig. Gen. Francis Ogbaje Omata of the Nigeria army was unsuccessful, because he was not available and nobody agreed to receive the summons on his behalf, but that the other witness Major General Godwin Omelo had been served as far back as on the 30th of November, 2020. He then implored the panel to allow for substituted service to the aforementioned Brig. General through the lead counsel of the army, Mr. A. T. Kehinde (SAN).
This position was also adopted by Mr. Olukayode Enitan, the Lagos State government counsel who had a watching brief on the matter. Mr. Enitan also drew the attention of the panel to the recent outbreak of covid-19 infection among senior military officers at a recent meeting under the office of the chief of army staff and which resulted in the death of a General. He implored the panel to recognize that as a result of the incident, the top heirarchy of the army might be complying with covid-19 protocols and so agreed with the submission of Mr. Jonathan for the army to be served through it’s counsel.
Mr. Adeshina Ogunlana of the EndSARS protesters also concurred with the submissions of his learned brothers that the army be re-served the summons.
Panel chairman Justice Doris Okuwobi (Rtd) then ruled that the army be re-served the panel summons through it’s lead counsel and thereafter adjourned the matter to 8th January, 2021 for further hearing.
While the second case was ongoing, the respondents counsel who were absent when the first case of Abayomi Adebayo vs SARS was mentioned, came into the court.
Thereafter, the case was rementioned and the petitioner entered the witness box for cross examination. The respondent counsel apologized profusely for coming late to the panel sitting.
The petitioner under cross-examination admitted knowing the name of the police officer who shot and killed his mother as Charles but doesn’t know his surname.
He claimed not to be aware of any steps being taken by the police authority to address the injustice suffered by his family.
The respondents counsel made it known to the petitioner that the said officer who shot and killed his mother absconded, was declared wanted and the declaration was gazetted. He even informed the petitioner that the said officer FCMB bank account was frozen in that regard, but the petitioner claimed to be unaware.
The respondents counsel then asked for an adjournment to enable him invite DSP Ibrahim Yusuf who was in charge of the matter when it occurred to throw more light on the case. He said the testimony of DSP Ibrahim Yusuf was crucial to the case, to prove that the police authority took steps to ensure justice. His plea for an adjournment was not objected to by the petitioner counsel.
Thereafter, Justice Doris Okuwobi (Rtd.) the panel chairman, adjourned the matter to 5th January, 2021 for further hearing.