Efforts by Lagos State Government toward genuine reconciliation and getting justice for victims of police brutality may be hitting the rock should the Federal High Court in the state grant prayers by two lawyers seeking the disbandment of Judicial Panel Of Inquiry set up by the government to investigate allegations leveled against Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of Nigeria Police Force.
The two lawyers identified as Adekunle Augustine and Semion Akogwu, argued that the Justice Doris Okuwobi-led judicial panel set up to look into complaints of human rights abuses by disbanded SARS officers, was not independent of parties involved in the matter.
The plaintiffs posited that setting up of the panel by the state’s Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, meant that the panel would not be fair in its proceeding since the governor was also an interested party in the matter.
The lawyers listed Sanwo-Olu, Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution for Victims of SARS-Related Abuses in Lagos State and Lekki Tollgate Incident; the panel’s chairman; and the Attorney General of Lagos State as defendants in the suit.
Part of their prayers include that the court disband the panel on the ground that Sanwo-Olu being a party in the matter, did not exercise his power in the public interest by setting up the panel.
The plaintiff, in the case dated November 11, 2020 and filed through their counsel, Samuel Adama, at a Lagos Federal High court with suit number FHC/L/CS/1572/20, also sought that the court make a declaration that the governor, being a party cannot set up a panel to investigate itself.
“A declaration that having regards to section 36(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Fepublic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) together with Exhibits A and Exhibit B, the 1st Defendant, being a party in the matter, did not exercise his power in public interest by setting up the 3rd Defendant.
“A declaration that the appointment of the 2nd Defendant and the setting up of the 3rd Defendant by the 1st Defendant is tantamount to making the 1st Defendant a Judge in his own cause and ipso facto breaches the Plaintiffs rights to fair hearing.
“An order of this Honourable Court disbanding the 3rd Defendant and nullifying its proceedings and whatsoever actions taken thereby so far to give way for a credible and independent commission of inquiry to be set up by the Federal Government to take over the mandate of the 3rd Defendant as contemplated by its establishment abi nitio,’’ the suit read.
No date has been fixed by the court for hearing of the case.