On Saturday, counsels to the Lekki Concession Company and Lagos State Government protested the suspension of sitting by the Lagos State Judicial Panel on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and other Matters.
They complained that there was an initial agreement that they would bring in their own experts and global witnesses at the end of the sitting.
Though their positions were not opposed by the #EndSARS protesters’ lawyers and Nigerian Bar Association representative, the panel insisted on the suspension of the sitting, saying the company should have called its experts and witnesses earlier.
The protesters’ lawyer, Ogunlana Adesina, scolded the LCC and the Lagos State Government counsels, saying he had earlier canvassed for six months adjournment which he said others were silent on.
He also urged the panel to be courageous and do what he described as the “right thing.”
“Others didn’t see what I saw when I was clamouring for six months adjournment. We saw this coming. The panel has a lot of work to do and evidence to examine. One of the EndSARS witnesses submitted over 100 video clips.
“I think they have heard from the major departments and they have a peculiar task unlike panels in other states. It is true that we agreed that LCCI and LASG should bring their experts and witnesses. Lagos wants to bring two and LCCI (also wants to bring) one. They should not be shut out like that. They should be allowed to do this in order to avoid credible criticism against the panel in future.
“I plead for extension. The work is taxing and the panel needs more time, maybe one month. However, we urge them to be courageous and do the right thing.”
The Lagos State Judicial Panel on Restitution for Victims of SARS was set up on October 27, 2020, to investigate cases of police brutality, especially involving officers of the now-defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad, and determine whether protesters were killed at the Lekki tollgate plaza on October 20, 2020, or not.
Though the panel was to last for a period of six-months -April 27, 2021, the Lagos State Government gave it a three-month extension which elapsed on Monday, July 19.
After that, the state government again extended the panel’s tenure by another three months, which would expire on October 19, 2021.
The extension, it was further learnt, was because only 126 petitions out of the 235 petitions it received had been heard as of July 17.
End SARS is a decentralised social movement, and series of mass protests against police brutality in Nigeria. The slogan calls for the disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a notorious unit of the Nigerian Police with a long record of abuses.