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Crime & Punishment of Saturday, 13 November 2021

Source: punchng.com

#EndSARS: Panel summons retired police officer over victim’s disappearance

The police The police

There was drama on Friday at the Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations when an argument ensued between the counsel for the police, Fidelis Ogbobe and the jurists in the case of enforced disappearance, arbitrary arrest and unlawful detention of one Lukman Suleiman.

The panel in its ruling said that Supol Christopher Monday, now retired, (key witness) should be recalled by the counsel to the police and made to appear before the panel to state his involvement in Suleiman’s disappearance.

But Ogbobe in his response said, “It will be difficult for the police to serve an order compelling the appearance of the retired officer.”

He insisted however that it was the responsibility of the panel to serve Monday through the Commissioner of Police (Legal). But John Aikpokpo Martins, representing the Nigerian Bar Association, stressed the powers of the panel saying “it has equal powers with the High Court and as such its orders must be binding on relevant persons or institutions.”

During the last hearing, Ogbobe informed the panel that he contacted the first respondent (Monday) on his involvement in the case. Monday reportedly said he had retired from service but directed Ogbobe to the new investigating police officer in charge of the case.

Ogbobe promised to produce the witness identified only as Emma but failed to do so when the matter came up on Friday for hearing. He said, “I couldn’t locate him, I don’t have a witness.”

The counsel for the petitioner, Divine Davies, advised that the defence of the police should be foreclosed and that the panel should order written addresses of both parties.

But Dr Garba Tetengi (SAN), representing the chairman of the panel, Justice Suleiman Galadima, maintained that there was the need to know the victim’s whereabouts.

He, therefore, sought the recall of the principal respondent, Monday, to tell the panel what he knew about the victim’s disappearance.

The panel said Monday, who was previously served notice of hearing, “should be served again, a written order through the CP (Legal), compelling his appearance before the panel at the next sitting.”

Tetengi said Monday’s failure to appear before the panel at the next sitting would leave it to make certain inferences as deemed fit.

Consequently, Monday was ordered through the Commissioner of Police (Legal) to appear before the panel while the case was adjourned till November 24, 2021.

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