By Emmanuel Edom
Despite controversies trailing the report of Justice Doris Okuwobi-led Lagos #EndSars Judicial Panel Of Inquiry (JPI), Justice appears to have been served to some deserving police officers, who were reportedly traumatized and severely injured during the protests said to have been hijacked by hoodlums.
Indeed, Justice in favour of the police officers obviously came into the public domain ,after the Lagos State Government finally released the two volumes report detailing the fallout of the #EndSARS protests in October 2020.
In the second volume of the panel report, which came into the public domain recently, the Panel adjudicated on 11 out of the 65 petitions submitted to it by members of the police force.
According to the report which was named ” Consolidated Report On General Police Brutality Cases”, the panel approved eight out of the 11 petitions it adjudicated upon , as having substance, while the remaining three were set aside for lacking merit.
Police Officers captured in the eight favorably considered petitions out of the 11 adjudicated upon by the panel, were those of Assistant Commissioner Of Police (ACP ) Taiwo Kasumu, who was said to have been injured at the burnt Igando Police Division, Lagos, where he was the then Divisional Police Officer, during the protests, ACP Folashade Daniel, who in a 16-paragraph affidavit deposed in favour of her petition, prayed the panel for compensation for grievous bodily harm and destruction of her personal properties during the protests while she was serving as the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) at Orile, Lagos.
In the report, ACP Kasumu was compensated with the sum of N2 Million while ACP Daniel,who had added in her petition, that her Toyota Camry was burnt in the process, was awarded N3 million for the bodily injury she suffered, while the loss of her property was transferred to the federal government for assessment and payment of compensation.
Other petitioners considered by the panel included ACP Oketunji Sola, ASP Elizabeth Enadhuze, Iliyasu Muhammed, Shina Olunlade, Gbolahan Olugbemi and Taiwo Kasumu.
On the list also were David John, who sent in a petition on behalf of his deceased brother, DSP John Ogbene (rtd), Insp. Jennifer Edosonwan, Akiniyi Olumide and Adeyemi Abiodun.
At the close of hearing and deliberation during the conference, which held on 30th October, 2021, eight of the petitions were found to be meritorious while three were not awarded compensation.
“The sum of N36, 200,000.00 was awarded as compensation to the deserving petitioners. It is however imperative to note that the panel only awarded for grievous bodily harm or other forms of assault occasioned to them or their immediate family members to the exclusion of all other claims.
However, due to the exhaustion of the N400 Million set aside by the state governor as victims compensation fund, the panel was unable to award the said compensation to the deserving petitioners, hence it appealed to the Governor to make extra financial provision to accommodate the remaining compensations.
“The panel consequently recommends that the state government approves and release the amounts awarded to the respective petitioners”.
However in the over view of the panels recommendations , the report called for immediate removal of section 84 of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act of 2004, which it said hinders claimants from fully realising judgement sums given by various courts.
The panel also suggested reinforcement and reinvigoration of the Complaint Response Unit (CRU) of the police force, setting up structures for reporting bad police behaviour, improvement of the general welfare of police, curbing the application of violence by the police and prompt arrest and prosecution of erring officers.
Besides other recommendations, it further stated that the constitutional timeframe within which suspects must be kept within custody must be observed at all times.
It would be recalled that the panel’s two- volumes document were presented to the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-olu , at the Lagos House, Ikeja, Lagos, on the 15th of November, 2021, though the volume covering the controversial Lekki Tollgate saga, was earlier leaked to the public by yet to be identified persons.
The panel membership was made up of respected eminent individuals and professionals cut across different strata of the society and led by retired Lagos State High Court Judge, Justice Okuwobi, Mr. Ebun – Olu Adegboruwa, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, retired Deputy Inspector General of Police ,DIG, Taiwo Lakanu, Patience Patrick Udoh,(Representing the Civil Society), Segun Awosanya, Oluwatoyin Odusanya, Lucas Koyejo, Majekodunmi Oluwaseun and Mr. Babajide Boye, who worked as panels secretary.