At the December 8, 2020 hearing of the Imo State Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Police Brutality and Related Extrajudicial Killings holding at Owerri, SPACES FOR CHANGE | S4C continued to provide legal representation to the victims of extrajudicial killings that followed the #EndSARS protests at Nwaorieubi in Mbaitoli Local Government Area. Out of the five cases S4C filed before the Judicial Commission, the organization’s legal officers, Kingsley Ogam-Okafor, esq. and Odukola Omotayo led two petitioners in evidence, cross-examined witnesses, tendered exhibits and moved motions demanding the sternest accountability from the police and military authorities.
Mrs. A’s matter was the first to be called up for hearing in respect of her late husband shot dead by the officers of 34 Artillery Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Obinze, Imo State. S4C’s legal team continued leading the petitioner in evidence. She adopted a further affidavit attached with additional exhibits filed in support of the petition. She had adopted the substantive affidavit at the last sitting. Exhibits tendered before the Commission include the expended bullet shell recovered from the scene where her husband was shot dead by military officers. The bullet shell was admitted in evidence and marked Exhibit A. In addition to the quest for the erring military officers to be identified and punished, the petitioner also sought monetary compensation for the loss of the family breadwinner. The payment of compensation will relieve her of the enormous financial burdens her husband’s demise placed on her shoulders.
Mrs. A was rigorously cross-examined by the counsel to the Commissioner of Police. Her second witness (PW 2) also testified before the Commission, providing additional eye-witness accounts of the gruesome killing. Counsel to the Commissioner of Police equally cross-examined PW2. The second matter filed on behalf of UOZ family also came up for hearing. Mr. UOZ was shot dead by officers of the 34 Artillery Brigade of Nigerian Army, Obinze, Imo State during a military-led reprisal attack that trailed the #EndSARS protests in Imo State. S4C’s legal team also led the petitioner (PWI) in evidence where he adopted the substantive petition and accompanying processes filed before the Commission of Inquiry. S4C closed the case for the second petitioner after the cross-examination by the counsel to the Commissioner of Police.
Again, the main respondent – 34 Artillery Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Obinze, Owerri, was absent at the hearing having failed to appear at the last hearing held on 24th November 2020. S4C’s legal team then sought leave from the Commission to proceed with the final addresses on the two petitions (Mrs. A and Mr. UOZ cases) brought against the Army Command in Imo State. The Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry, Hon Justice Duruoha-Igwe (Rtd) declined the application and granted the respondents one final opportunity to respond to the claims. “If they don’t show up on the next adjourned date, the Commission will entertain the Petitioners’ final addresses and adjourn finally for recommendations/judgement”, the Commission ruled. The matter was adjourned to the 13th of January 2021 for cross examination by the Nigerian Army Command and final address by all parties in the petition. S4C is providing free legal representation to the victims of #ENDSARS protests with support from the Fund for Global Human Rights.