By Okunade Adekunle
The judicial panel set up by the Lagos state government to investigate cases of police brutality by the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and Lekki shooting suffered setback as youth representatives, Olorunrinu Oduala and Majekodunmi Temitope have withdrawn from the panel in protest against the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to freeze account of one of the #EndSARS promoter, Olorunrinu Oduala.
The panel which was on the verge of receiving Nigeria Army testimony could not sit as the Chairperson of the panel, Justice (Mrs) Doris Okuwobi, immediately informed the gathering that the panel would not be able to sit due to the absence of the two youth representatives, saying that quorum was not formed.
She, however, adjourned the sitting till 14th of November.
Okuwobi noted that the adjournment was important because the youths who were also members of the #EndSARS protest are key members of the panel.
Speaking with journalists on the development, counsel to the EndSARS protesters, Mr Adesina Ogunlana, described the development as scandalous and an embarrassment to the panel and the country’s judiciary.
He added ” We got here this morning to see a diminished panel. Instead of 8 member panel, two of the youth representatives are absent in protest against the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria to freeze their accounts.
“The Chairman of the panel didn’t just adjourn but gave her reasons which is the inability to form a quorum because the law that set up necessitated the presence of the youth. One of the youths, Olorunriny Oduala, was included in the list of those accounts was frozen following the exparte order of a court in Abuja.
“The lawyer who obtained that order was former Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Aondoaka. But what is important here is that these youths are on a panel set up by the Lagos State government and they are being sanctioned by another government. I wondered whether the integrity of the panel will not be compromised. The state and Federal Government are committed to peace but what we are having here is a situation of the declaration of war.
And that is what the youth have read into it. I am advising the panel to be proactive and do something. This is embarrassing to the panel. The authority that set them up is decapping them. This is an attack on the judiciary because the panel is a Judicial panel. It is the duty of the bar to protect the panel.”
“The Nigerian Army whose representatives are already prepared to make their presentation couldn’t go ahead”, said Ogunlana.
Also, lead counsel to the Nigerian Army, Akinlolu Kehinde, SAN said, “I am here in pursuant of the summon issues to us. We appreciate the panel for taking us in confidence and express the challenges the panel is facing. As you rightly observed, we came from different jurisdiction. We will like to be guided on when you want us to be back.”
Recall that on Friday, the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja granted the request of CBN to freeze the accounts of 20 individuals and a public affairs company linked to the #EndSARS protests.
However, it is clear that the youth representatives may not participate in the activities of the panel again unless the frozen account is unfreeze.