Two Nigerian lawyers, Adekunle Augustine, and Semion Akogwu have approached a Federal High Court seeking for the disbandment of the Judicial Panel Of Inquiry and Restitution For Victims Of SARS Related Abuses.
Governor Sanwo-Olu on Monday, October 19, inaugurated an eight-man panel of inquiry to investigate cases of brutality and human rights violations committed by operatives of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad SARS in the state. The panel was later mandated to investigate the shooting incident at the Lekki tollgate which happened on October 20.
According to the court papers filed on Wednesday, November 11, the lawyers asked the court to disband the panel on grounds that the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, being a party in the cases to be investigated by the panel, cannot set up the panel to investigate itself and the outcome of the panel will be in favor of the state.
They argued that ”he who pays the piper dictates the tune” and that since the governor is of interest in the case, the outcome of the panel may not be favorable to all.
Governor Sanwo-Olu, the Chairman of the panel, the judicial panel of inquiry, Justice Doris Okuwobi, and the Attorney-General of the state, Moyosore Onigbanjo, are 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants respectively.
In the affidavit in support of the originating summon, the plaintiffs averred that,
”On the 20th of October, 2020, the 1st Defendant caused the deployment of troops to Lekki Toll gate, Lagos State where a large number of youths were gathered in peaceful protest against police brutality; and the troops fired several artillery weapons at the scene leading to various degrees of bodily injuries and alleged death of several people.
The 1st Defendant admitted that he authorised the deployment of troops to Lekki Toll Gate on that 20th October, 2020 to stop the peaceful protest which by extension occasioned the use of artillery weapons by the soldiers at the scene, leading to some life threatening injuries, grievous hurt and alleged death of many of the protesters. A newspaper publications to the fact that the 1st Defendant admitted he authorized the deployment of troops to Lekki Toll Gate Lagos on that 20th October, 2020 is hereby annexed and marked Exhibit ‘A’.
The 1st Defendant thereafter set up of the 3rd Defendant consisting of 20 members with the 2nd Defendant as the Head, for the purpose of investigating the Lekki Toll Gate military invasion and other matters thereto and to make recommendations to the 1st Defendant on the findings. A newspaper publication on this fact is hereby annexed and marked Exhibit ‘B’
That the 1st Defendant constituted the 3rd Defendant and appointed all the members thereof at his pleasure.
That I am desirous of seeking justice in the matter but I strongly believe I will be prejudiced by the setting up of the 3rd Defendant, hence this suit.
That since the 1st Defendant authorised the military invasion that led to the various degrees of bodily hurt and alleged death of many Nigerians who were at the scene at Lekki Toll Gate on the 20th October, 2020, he is a principal figure to be investigated and hence I will not have fair hearing on the platform of the 3rd Defendant which is a creation of the 1st Defendant that is equally on the threshold of investigation over the matter.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the case.