Wednesday, 12 May, 2021

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Anambra panel seeks more time to handle 287 cases


• NBA makes case for protest detainees

The Anambra State Judicial Panel of Enquiry on Police Brutality, Extra-Judicial Killings and Other Related Offences has said it needs more time to attend to the 310 petitions filed before it.

Its Chairman, Justice Veronica Umeh (retd.), said the panel had treated 23 out of the number and still had 287 others to attend to.

The panel was set up by Governor Willie Obiano on the directive of the Federal Government, following the #EndSARS protests across the country.

Addressing petitioners yesterday during the sitting at the Government House in Awka, the state capital, Justice Umeh said the panel concluded 23 petitions after 11 sittings, including those struck out for being outside the panel’s terms of reference.

She regretted that the panel had the highest number of petitions in the country and, therefore, needed more time to deal with the cases before it.

Justice Umeh said the panel had applied for additional 24 sittings, after the initial 12 sittings, which elapsed yesterday, to enable it attend to the barrage of petitions before it.

Also, the Anambra State branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has urged the Federal Government to ensure that people arrested for any form of crime during the #EndSARS protest are given constitutional right to justice.

It faulted the arrest and detention of people even while their cases were being investigated.

The lawyers’ umbrella body described such act as contrary to the law.

Speaking in Onitsha at the Law dinner and awards to individuals to conclude the Law Week of NBA Ihiala branch, with the theme: Emerging Trends in Legal Practice, chairman of all the chairmen of the eight NBA branches in the state and Chairman of Ihiala branch of the association, Mr. Vitalis Ihedigbo, stressed that the body was against anarchy and any form of crime.

He said: “The Anambra State NBA has made its position clear about #EndSARS protest. We are not in support of anarchy and going into the streets to destroy public and private properties, just as it does not support crime of any form.

“One of the reforms expected from the Nigeria Police Force after the #EndSARS protest is the act of conducting and completing their investigations before arresting suspects. Arrest is the last point of criminal prosecution before a suspect is taken to court.”

“The idea of arresting people and detaining them while investigation and fishing for evidence against a particular person or suspect for an alleged crime must be discarded. This is because it is against international best practice.

“We demand that people who were arrested for any crime during the #EndSARS protest must be given their constitutionally guaranteed right to access to justice. They should not be arrested and clamped into detention while investigations into their case are still ongoing. Such is not what the law says.”

Credit: The Nation

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