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#EndSARS: Enugu Judicial Panel Member Dissociates Self From Report By Secretary That Petitioners Abandoned Cases

Comrade Osmond Ugwu, a member of the 8-man Judicial Panel of Inquiry to receive and investigate complaints of police brutality and/or related extrajudicial killings in Enugu state has dissociated himself from the report released by the panel’s Secretary, Onochie Obuna that about 52 petitioners who submitted petition and information had already abandoned their cases.

Obuna, who is the representative of the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice had said the panel received 147 petitions.

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He said out of the 147 petitions, 60 were treated, while 35 cases were transferred to the administrative panel, because they did not fall within its jurisdiction.

He also said the remaining 52 petitions were abandoned by the owners, as they refused to appear before the panel, in spite of several reminders.

But reacting in a statement, Ugwu described the claims by the Secretary as false.

He said, “As far as I am concerned, the information is very fallacious and is misleading. I am a member of the panel and I represent the Civil Society in the panel. I have shown presence on and participated in all the meetings and sittings of the panel except on two days which I had compelling reasons to be absent from the panel of which I put the chairman on notice, sought for and obtained permissions.

“During the meeting of the panel on Thursday, 29th July, 2021, the panel directed the Secretary to compile all the memos from number one to 147 as contained in the cause list of the panel and update the panel members both in soft and hard copies; the status of each memo vis-a-vis those adopted with dates, those transferred with date, those on the hearing stage and date of last adjournment and those yet to be mentioned with evidence of communication to the petitioners by the panel through the Registry headed by the Secretary.

“It is from this record that we can, after verification conclude that a particular petitioner has abandoned his or her petition. We have not received such record till today and no panel member has any record of petitions that is said to have been abandoned. The figure 52 is read for the first time on the media. The same thing is applicable to the number of the transferred cases and adopted cases.

“The number of the transferred and adopted cases he submitted to the press are not known to the members. Thirty-five and 60 representing transferred and adopted cases are read by members on the pages of newspapers. They are not before us.

“Prior to the meeting and directive of the panel on the 29th July, the panel had on occasions before the commencement of the JUSUN strike and on resumption after the strike directed the Secretary to write to every petitioner acknowledging his/her petition and informing him or her of the next thing expected of him or her and to appear before the panel.

“To the best of my knowledge, he has not done that till date and somebody who does not know the programme of the panel or whether his or petition received any attention cannot be said to have abandoned his or petition. Panel members have several times demanded to see evidence of communication to the petitioners and the Secretary has not produced any. The same is applicable to his claim of radio announcements. No evidence as to the radio used and whether it was through news or on the spot announcements, and how many times. We don’t have such information.

“Interesting thing is that enough money was approved and released for such purposes by the government to the Secretary. Whether it is utilised for that purpose is what I cannot say.”

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