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Imo judicial panel gets two petitions, threatens to close shop

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Imo State Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Police Brutality and Related Extra-Judicial Killings has begun sitting at the old Chief Judge’s Court, Orlu Road, Owerri, with the chairperson, Justice Florence Duroha-Igwe (rtd.), decrying that only two petitions has reached the panel.

She regretted that despite the publicity embarked on by the 16-member commission, including placing adverts on two national dailies and three local newspapers, prior to the inaugural sitting, only two victims submitted petitions.

Threatening to wind up if after two weeks no response came from the public, she hinted that the panel had only six weeks to sit.

Duroha-Igwe warned the counsel appearing before the panel not to ask for frivolous adjournments.

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The retired jurist also decried low turn-out of lawyers to the panel’s inaugural event yesterday, recalling her cordial relationship with them in her career as a judge.

Her words: “I have always enjoyed the support of lawyers. I hope it will not be different this time. If you don’t come now to ventilate, I don’t know when you will.”

On the receipt of two petitions since the panel started publicity calling for such, she said: “We have written to churches. I think we have covered all grounds. As of today, we have only received two petitions. I don’t know why response is very poor.”

She wondered why Imo petitioners prefer Abuja to the Imo panel, as reported by an Owerri-based newspaper.

“We are calling for petitions, yet they (petitioners) went to Abuja to file. Does it make sense? You say that your safety is not guaranteed, yet you don’t come forward. It will be a defeatist way of thinking. I am not impressed,” she said, expressing joy that journalists turned out in their numbers at the inaugural sitting.

The two cases include JCIP1/2020 involving Miracle Duruawuzie, the late Osita Duruawuzie and the police. The other is JCIP2/2020 involving Longinus Durueke and Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Ubasonye Johnson, ASP Eke William, Nduka Ugbaja, ASP Innocent Ahuama, Sgt. John Ezeugwu and Cpl. Ugochukwu Nwachukwu. There were adjourned till November 9, 2020.

At the event, the Archbishop of Owerri Catholic Ecclesiastic Province, Dr. Anthony Obinna, was represented by Rev. Fr. Kelvin Njemadu; while the Bishop of Owerri Anglican Diocese, Chukwuma Oparah, was represented by Rev. Canon Jonah Nwebo. Eke Onyeforo represented the chairman of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Owerri branch, Jude Ugamba.

The chairperson promised to follow due process in handling the proceedings.

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