#EndSARS: Police, military absence stalls hearing at Bayelsa judicial panel

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Eight cases listed for hearing on Wednesday by the Bayelsa State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Police Brutality and Related Matters could not be heard following the absence of police and military representation.

Seven of the petitions were filed against the Nigeria Police Force while only one was against the Nigerian Army.

While the petitioners were present, the police and army who are the respondents, had no representative when the cases were called for hearing at the state Multi-Door Court Hall venue of the panel’s proceedings.

Chairman of the seven-member panel, Justice Young Ogola (retd), said the cases would not be heard since other parties were not present.

He, therefore, adjourned all the cases to January 7, 2021 for hearing, saying “the respondents might not have been served the papers to cause them to appear before the panel.”

Two of the petitioners, Orji Ogbonna and Agorowei Godwin, who filed against the Warri Command of the Nigerian Army, did not hire lawyers.

They told the panel that they would speak for themselves but Ogola advised them to approach the Yenagoa and Sagbama branches of the Nigerian Bar Association who had declared to assist indigent petitioners with free legal services.

Another member of the panel, Fortune Alfred, also informed Ogbonna and Agorowei that the Bayelsa Non-Governmental Organisations Forum and the International Federation of Women Lawyers were also available to help poor petitioners prosecute their cases.

It would be recalled that the panel had during its inaugural sitting on Tuesday adjourned six cases slated for hearing to January 6, 2021, due to the absence of police representation.

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