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Bayelsa #EndSARS panel ends sitting, backs police reforms

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[FILES] Police

The Bayelsa State judicial panel on police brutality and extra-judicial killings has concluded its sitting after investigating 50 petitions filed against the Nigerian police and military officers.

It ruled on 47 petitions against the personnel of the state command over alleged extra-judicial killings and quashed three others for lack of diligent prosecution by the petitioners.

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The seven-member panel headed by Justice Emmanuel Ogola (rtd.) held its inaugural session after a one week delay due to lack of funds.

In one of the cases it heard yesterday on the alleged killing of 22-year old Tarila Mabinton on July 10, 2020, Ogola expressed disappointment at the inconsistency in the police investigative officers’ claims that the deceased was killed, because he was an armed robbery suspect.

Justice Ogola pointed out that the respondents, Inspector Ebong Otutu and the Nigerian Police, were full of inconsistencies and contradictions, insisting that the evidence showed irregularity on the actual scene of the killing and the crime the deceased allegedly committed before he was murdered in cold blood.

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“The police have a case to answer. I have my doubt that there was actually a robbery before the victim was killed. The Supreme Court had clarified that if the evidence of a party to a proceeding is manifestly contradictory, the court should reject such evidence.

“And because of the inconsistency in the evidence given by the police, the petitioner had proved his case,” he said.

He, therefore, awarded N10 million for the victim’s family, N5 million for the deceased’s girlfriend, who was pregnant and was with him when the police killed him.

Justice Ogola, who also awarded N3 million for the deceased family to organise a decent burial rite, ordered that the victim’s corpse should be released to the family.

During an interactive session with journalists, he canvassed comprehensive reform of the Nigerian Police Force and psychological evaluation necessary to ensure a more civil way of interacting with members of the public.

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