Judex Okoro, Calabar
The Cross River State Judicial Panel of Inquiry into police brutality and restitution has adjourned on technical issues.
The panel, set up last month by Governor Ben Ayade, is faced with issue of whether to go ahead with its inquiry without giving the Nigerian Police the opportunity to defend itself of the allegations against it or to give them a fair hearing.
Chairman of the Panel, Justice Michael Edem, who disclosed this after the inaugural sitting of the panel, said the issues raised need to be adequately addressed by the panel to ensure all interest groups would have seen the panel as having done justice.
He said: “The issued that have been mentioned by the lawyers is that matter is on the Federal exclusive legislative list concerning the police and the state does not have jurisdiction to take up this matter.
“We want to go and as ascertain from the research we are going to make and then come up safely.
“One of the reasons we are on break is because all the petitions need to be compiled and then served on the police.
“If they are not served, then we are not safe enough to continue with the matter”, Justice Edem said.
Speaking shortly after adjournment, one of the lawyers said the Nigerian police which supervises SARS should be given an opportunity to defend itself.
He said: “one of the issues that have been raised is the fact that the proper body which the complaints should be directed which is the Nigeria Police is not here and we have to be fair to them.
“Also, we have observed that the respondents to the petition are the government of Cross River State and we know that the state does not have control over the police.
“So there is conflict in what they are doing and we should not engage in an exercise in futility.
“Also the Attorney General of the state is sitting as secretary of the panel and in law, he is the chief law officer who represents the state. So the panel will look into all this and come up with a position we will proceed with”, he said.
The panel had so far received 39 petitions from the state.