THE 34-man Judicial Commission of Inquiry into alleged police brutality, high- handedness and extra-judicial killings by the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force in Anambra State, with Justice Veronica Umeh as chairman, has commenced public sitting.
Justice Umeh in a brief speech at the inaugural session of the panel at the main auditorium of the ASATU Building at the Government House, Awka, on Tuesday, disclosed that the panel had been conducting necessary groundwork since its inauguration by Governor Willie Obiano, on October 20, while a total of 33 petitions had been received from aggrieved citizens so far.
However, a member of the panel, Dr. Uju Nwogu, who is the Commissioner for Justice/Attorney-General, announced her withdrawal from the team on the ground that it violated the tenets of law for her to participate in the panel which its final report would be referred to her office for advice.
The terms of reference given to the panel by the state government include to receive and investigate the complaints of police brutality relating to torture, high-handedness and alleged extra-judicial killings by SARS and police in the state, to evaluate evidence presented and other surrounding circumstances and draw conclusion as to the validity of the complaints.
Justice Umeh expressed appreciation for the maximum support and cooperation being offered them by the office of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, for providing required logistics as well as the team of staff deployed to work with the panel.
Other assignments of the panel were to recommend compensation and other remedial measures where appropriate to the state government as well as to submit report to the government within one (1) month, although Justice Umeh complained that the deadline might not be achievable due to the complex of the assignment and promised they would do a thorough job to the satisfaction of all.
Some members of the panel present at the inaugural session included; Air Vice-Marshal Ben Chiobi (rtd.), Prof. Ogugua Ikpeze, Bishop Johnson Ekwe, Prince Chris Azor, who represents the Civil Rights bodies in the state, Comrade Nwabufo Nwankwo as well as Comrades Victor Anyika, Ebele Ngini and Ifeanyi Kwentor, representing #EndSARS group and Rita Chinelo Onyeka, secretary of the judicial panel.