David West, a civil rights lawyer representing the family of late Victor Emmanuel who was murdered for protesting against police extortion, has accused the Nigeria Police Force of attempting to frustrate the efforts of the Bayelsa State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on police brutality and extra-judicial killings by failing to respond to petitions against its personnel.
West made this claim shortly after the counsel to the Nigeria Police Force, Zideme Gwegwe, told members of the judicial panel sitting in Yenagoa that the police lacked funds to respond to petitions of brutality and extra-judicial killings against its personnel, even though the rules of proceedings of the panel says all responses must be made within seven days.
Explaining further, he said that for failing to respond to petitions against it during the sitting of the panel yesterday, the police violated section 4, sub-section 2a of the rules of proceedings of the panel which states that “respondents have seven days to reply to petitions.”
He said “being present at the panel hearing from the beginning till date, like I have observed and called the attention of the panel chairman to the fact that it appears the respondents are not showing much seriousness.
“I don’t know if they are taking the panel with a pinch of salt because if you look at the rule of the panel, it is clearly stated that responses are to be made within seven days.
“Let me particularly speak on my own issue here – that of the cold-blooded murder of late Victor Emmanuel. We have appeared before the panel. The respondents which is the Nigerian police came to the panel and claimed that they have received our petition but have not been able to study it.
“The panel then adjourned the matter to give them time to study our petition and reply accordingly but on the day of adjournment for the panel to reconvene again the counsel to the Nigerian Police came up with another excuse that as a result of financial constraints they cannot respond or reply to the petition.
“This is sad to hear for the general public that the Nigeria Police do not have funds to reply to petition.”
Reacting to the complaint by the lawyer, the panel’s head of publicity, Mr Samuel Numonengi, said “all the cases that were called today have been adjourned to February 13, 2021 due to the fact that the Nigeria Police could not respond to petitions filed against them and this has been dragging our progress backwards for a while now.
“You heard what our panel chairman said. So by the end of this month, when we would stop receiving petitions, we would have time to focus more on hearing and those who fail to respond to petitions against them would no longer bother us, as we would go on with our responsibility to hear all petitions and give them adequate hearing.”