The Panel of Inquiry and Restitution set up by the Lagos State Government to look into cases of human rights abuse by men of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad opened hearing on Tuesday with four cases.
First was the case of one Okoliagu Abunike, a father of five, who narrated to the retired Justice Doris Okuwobi-led panel how he was in 2012 arrested by policemen from Ojo Police Station at the instance of his boss, who accused him of embezzling company’s funds.
According to him, the cops at the Ojo Police Station, after beating and humiliating him by tearing his clothes and parading him round Alaba Market, handed him over to SARS men, who detained him at Ikeja for 47 days.
He said men of SARS, including one Inspector Sunday, alias Baba Ijapa; and one ASP Haruna, tortured him so much so that two of his teeth were extracted.
He said after spending 47 days in SARS cell, he was hurriedly charged before a magistrates’ court after a lawyer hired by his family wrote a petition.
Abunike said on getting out of detention, he filed a fundamental rights suit and Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos in 2016 awarded N10m damages in his favour against the police and his former boss.
Abunike, however, said four years after the judgment, all efforts to enforce it and claim the money had proved abortive.
Asked whether the magistrate court found him guilty of any crime, Abunike answered in the negative.
The panel admitted a copy of Justice Buba’s N10m judgment as an exhibit and said its decision would be made known in seven days.