By Mike Ubani
The Enugu State Panel on Police Brutality and Extra-Judicial Killings has enjoined lawyers handling the petition filed by Onagu Ogbodo, retired permanent secretary Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board (ENSUBEB) against the Board’s Chairman, Chief Ikeje Asogwa, to ensure a quick and peaceful resolution of the dispute between the two parties.
In an 11-page petition submitted to the panel through his lawyer Ifeanyi Okoli, Ogbodo alleged that on November 28, 2017, about four police men attached to Asogwa, stripped and beat him to stupor inside ENSUBEB premises, Independence Layout, Enugu, on the orders of the ENSUBEB boss.
The petitioner demanded for a compensation of five hundred million naira, and Asogwa’s dismissal from from office for allegedly subjecting him to inhuman treatment.
Ogbodo’s petition was scheduled for hearing on Tuesday, March 16, but when the matter was called up, Counsel to the ENSUBEB boss, Emeka Asogwa, informed the panel that both parties had commenced discussions on the amicable resolution of the case through the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism.
Chairman of the Panel, Justice Kingsley Udeh (retd), who welcomed the development, gave the two parties one week to resolve their quarrel, and report back to the panel on March 25.
However, a drama ensued at the resumed sitting on March 25 when counsel to Ogbodo said that throughout the one week given by the Panel to tie up the reconciliation option, the ENSUBEB boss failed to communicate with either him or his client (Ogbodo).
But Asogwa’s counsel told the Panel that the ENSUBEB boss informed him that he had mended fences with Ogbodo, adding that Ogbodo is probably waiting for Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, to invite him for talks before withdrawing his petition before the Panel.
However, Ogbodo informed the Panel that some ‘good-spirited’ individuals had earlier arranged for a re-conciliatory meeting between him and the ENSUBEB boss somewhere at Independence Layout, Enugu.
According to him, the ENSUBEB chairman failed to make himself available, leading to the rescheduling ot the meeting.
He further said that at the second meeting attended by the ENSUBEB boss, he (Ikeje Asogwa) “agreed to do the ADR,” but never did anything thereafter to advance the discussion.
“There were no terms of agreement and no settlement whatsoever,” he said.
The former permanent secretary explained that his petition was directed against the ENSUBEB boss, and not Gov. Ugwuanyi, and as such, he is not expecting the governor to invite him for reconciliation.
Justice Udeh mandated lawyers in both Ogbodo and Asogwa’s camps to ensure the peaceful settlement of the matter before the next adjourned date.
He said: “The thinking of the Panel is that we should give you one more date to settle this matter, since the Panel had earlier been informed of moves for a peaceful settlement of the issues involved in this matter.
“We are interested in seeing that there is peace between Ogbodo and Asogwa. These are two young men that still have a long way to go in life, unlike some of us that had already clocked 70.”
“I want you people (lawyers) to go the extra-mile to settle this matter,” he said.
The case was put off for April 13, 2021.