Edo panel extends sitting days to dispense 156 petitions

The 22-man Edo State Judicial Panel of Inquiry for victims of the disbanded SARS and related police brutality on Thursday disclosed that it will be sitting five days in a week to enable it treat all the 156 petitions before it.

Ada Ehigiamusoe, Chairperson of the panel, disclosed this in Benin City, the state capital ,after listening to four petitions before it.

Mrs Ehigiamusoe, a retired judge in the state, said the panel needed to increase the number of cases it was handling per day to meet up with the deadline.

The panel, which was inaugurated on October 26 and started sitting on November 5, was given 90 days to dispense all petitions brought before it.

However, the panel chairperson pointed out that part of the delay was giving room to the police to respond to cases raised against them, adding that two summons were again issued on Thursday.

She said, “We have 156 petitions before us and we would sit up to December 23 and go on break and we reconvene on December 28 for continuation. We would have another break that will see us through to January 4.

“You know time is of the essence for us. Incidentally, we would increase our sittings from Monday next week, because of the spate of the petitions that we have received, the sittings will take the whole of the week from Monday to Friday. This will enable us to do something substantial and we are thinking that if need be, we might extend to Saturdays, but we will decide on that.

“We issued two summons, not bench warrants, to the police today. We issued the summons because they were mentioned in the petitions before us and we felt it will be most appropriate and expedient to hear from the other side.

“For today, we had three petitions for reviews, which is increasing the numbers that we have and have adjourned some to enable the other side put up appearance especially the ones about the police.”

Mrs Ehigiamusoe said the essence of the panel is to ensure that justice is done to all the manner of cases brought before it, adding, “We have been called to do justice and we would do it to the fullest. All the petitions that have been filed before us would be given considerable considerations. The law is no respecter of persons.”

The #EndSARS protests, which rocked the country in the month of October, were largely carried out by Nigerian youth who protested against police brutality and other forms of rights abuses by the police.

The protests, peaceful initially, were later hijacked by hoodlums which resulted in looting, arson, destruction and killing of both civilians and police personnel,

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In separate reactions to the protest, the Inspector General of Police disbanded the controversial SARS while the President directed all state governments to set up a panel of inquiry to probe allegations of rights abuses and extrajudicial killings levelled against the police.

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