By Mike Ubani
The Enugu State Police Brutality and Extra-Judicial Killings Panel, has appealed to lawyers appearing before it to assist the panel conclude its assignment within the six-month period allotted by the state government.
Chairman of the Panel Justice Kingsley Udeh (retd), made the appeal at the resumed hearing of a petition filed by a former Permanent Secretary, Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board (ENSUBEB) Onagu Ogbodo, against the board chairman, Ikeje Asogwa.
In an 11-page petition submitted to the panel through his lawyer Ifeanyi Okoli, Ogbodo alleged that the police stripped and beat him to stupor sometime last year inside ENSUBEB premises, Enugu, on the orders of Asogwa.
He is demanding for a compensation of five hundred million naira, and dismissal of Asogwa from office for allegedly subjecting him to inhuman treatment.
The ENSUBEB boss had through his counsel, Emeka Asogwa, filed a motion of preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the panel to hear the matter.
He argued that his client (Asogwa) ought not to have been dragged before the Panel since he is not a police officer.
When the matter came up for hearing at the weekend, counsel for Asogwa, asked for a short adjournment to enable him study a 12-page reply to his preliminary objection submitted by Ogbodo’s counsel.
He said: “This morning the petitioner served us with a 12-page reply to our preliminary objection …And in the light of this development, we are constrained to ask for a short adjournment to enable us peruse this document, and make necessary reaction if need be.”
At this juncture, C. E. Nwodo, counsel to Sergeant Henshaw, the police officer accused of actively participating in the beating of Ogbodo, informed the Panel that he had also filed a motion of preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the Panel to hear the matter.
“You have not filed anything. We have nothing before us. Are you being fair to the Panel by coming here after one month of your last appearance to say that you are challenging the jurisdiction of the Panel to hear this matter…Justice delayed is justice denied,” retorted Justice Udeh.
He appealed to lawyers appearing before the Panel to assist it complete its assignment on schedule.
Counsel to Ogbodo informed the Panel that he was ready to proceed with the matter, alleging that the respondents wanted to delay proceedings by filling motions challenging the jurisdiction of the Panel to hear the case.
After prolonged legal fireworks, Justice Udeh adjourned the matter till March 16 for hearing. He warned that the Panel will not entertain any further adjournment.
The Panel is also entertaining an alleged murder case against Asogwa.