SARS Panel: NHRC Describes Police Lawyer As ‘Stressful-Looking’, Issues Warning, Explains Why

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday, frowned on police authorities for sending one legal representation before the Independent Investigative Panel on Alleged Human Rights Violations by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad and other units of the Nigerian Police Force, despite having a lot of allegations against security operatives to defend.

NHRC said in a statement sent to THE WHISTLER that prior to the resumption of panel sitting on March 1, hearing notices were issued to parties including the police but “the near absence of the police legal team at the panel” shocked the panel members.

At its resumed sitting, the NHRC stated that only one police counsel, Mr. Kenneth Egbuchua appeared before the panel.

NHRC said the lawyer could not coordinate himself going by the number of issues he had to respond to on that day.

“The stressful-looking Mr. Ebuchua who goes in and out of the sitting intermittently seems to be overwhelmed with the task he has to single-handedly undertake at the panel. The panel at a point had to wait for him to come back before it proceeds when he went to answer the call of nature. Such a needless vacuum ought not to have been created if the police had taken their duties at the panel seriously in the last couple of days after the panel’s resumption, NHRC said in a statement signed by Fatimah Agwai Mohammed Deputy Director Public Affairs.

“Empty seats of the Police Legal team” Photo Credit: NHRC

Dissatisfied by the development, Dr. Garba Tetengi who deputized for the panel Chairman, Justice Sulaiman Galadima said “we tend to believe now that the police have abandoned us, they are just leaving one counsel here.”

The NHRC warned the police authorities not to underestimate its powers which includes issuing a warrant to compel the attendance of any person who after having been summoned to attend, fails, refuse or neglects to do so and does not excuse such failure, refusal or neglect to the satisfaction of the Commission.

The statement reads:

“The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is therefore using this medium to call on the hierarchy of the police institution to do the needful and take the IIP-SARS panel seriously saying it is determined to fight for the rights and dignity of every person leaving in Nigeria.

“It should be put on record that the role of the police in the protection of lives and properties of citizens can never be over-emphasized. The panel members have severally warned the police not to frustrate the effort of the panel but this seems not to have made any impact considering their attitude at the resumed sitting of 2022.

“In the event that the police fail to heed this call and take the necessary steps to discharge their responsibilities at the panel, the Commission will be left with the option to invoke its powers under the NHRC Amendment Act 2010.”

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