File photo: Youths protest against police brutality in Nigeria, October 2020.
By Ike Uchechukwu
The inaugural sitting of the Cross River, Judicial Panel of Enquiry into Police Brutality and Restitution has been adjourned to Friday, Nov. 13.
The adjournment follows calls by the counsels that the police should be served the petitions which were 39.
Speaking during the sitting, on Wednesday in Calabar, Justice Michael Edem, Chairman of the Panel of Enquiry, after listening to recommendations from different counsels said the issues raised would be properly sorted out so that the panel would kick off on a sound footing.
His words: “One of the reasons why we are adjourning is that all the petitions have to be compiled and served on the police, if they are not served, we are not safe enough to continue with the matter.
“Also, this matter concerning the police is on the exclusive legislative list and the state does not have the power to take them up,” he said.
In his remark, the Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, Calabar Chapter Dr. Paul Ebiala said the reason for the adjournment was the observation made by the members of the Bar present at the Panel of Enquiry.
Ebiala said they all saw that there were some irregularities that if not cured would affect the jurisdiction of the panel and at the end render its efforts null and void.
“The petitioners are not against the government of Cross River as erroneously printed on our list as petitioners versus the state but rather of police brutality and the police is a federal institution.
“But since the president has given the power to the state to constitute this body, the police should necessarily be joined as respondent not the government of Cross River.
“It is not as if the police is on trial, it is simply so that the Federal Government that is the owner of the police can remedy certain situations that have been attributed to the police.
“Now that the inaugural sitting has been adjourned, by the time we come back on Friday, we will have a direction of how to go because the Panel would have made some consultations before coming up with decisions,” he said.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Mba Ukweni who was present at the Panel of Enquiry said the proper body for which the complaints were directed was the Nigerian Police and they were not present.
Ukweni added that it would be unfair for the Panel not to give the police the opportunity to respond to the various complaints levelled against it.