From Ben Dunno, Warri
The Delta State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Police Brutality and Extrajudicial Killings has deferred further hearing in a case filed by the Ogbalor’s family against the police over the alleged unjust murder of their son, one, Anthony Ogbalor, popularly known as ‘Dracula’, in year 2017.
Announcing the new date of February 1 at a public hearing of cases of human rights abuses by the police at the Government House Annex in Warri, the Chairman of the Panel, Justice Celestina Ogis (retd), noted that the adjournment was to allow counsel to the victim’s family ample time to perfect his case.
Justice Ogis, expressed displeasure with the Police Legal Officer, Barrister Sunny Irabor, for referring to the statement of a witness in the case, one John Ideh, as a second petition outside that of the deceased family signed by one Wilson Ogbalor, the senior brother to the deceased.
She maintained that the witness testimony in his affidavit already admitted by the panel remains as a witness statement, while the family petition before the panel stands as the only petition in the case.
Speaking to reporters at the end of the proceedings, the Police Legal Officer, Barrister Sunny Irabor, assured that there was no cause for alarm in the matter before the panel as the police would be making a water tight defence to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubts.
He noted that the police officer accused in the petition, CSP Anietie Eyoh, was a well trained officer who discharges his duties professionally while working as the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of B Division and other units in the state when the incident occurred.
Barrister Irabor expressed optimism that the credibility of the evidence both in video and hand written statements of the deceased at the point of interrogation are enough fact to prove that the deceased family had to case against the police.
Meanwhile a melodrama was witnessed at the commencement of the proceedings when the police lawyer, Barrister Irabor, urged a member of the panel, Mr. Gwamnishu Emefiena Harrison to excuse himself from the panel in the case involving the police officer, CSP Anietie Eyoh.
The police counsel had argued that Harrison who had been severally arrested and in one instance, openly assaulted the police officer in his office at the ‘B Division’, Asaba, cannot sit as a member of the panel to hear a case involving CSP Eyoh, and still be objective in his judgement.
But in a swift response, the Chairman of the Judicial Panel, Justice Celestina Ogisi (retd), urged the police lawyer to take his petition to the Delta State Governor, Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, since he was the one that constituted the panel.
She said: ‘None of us here were appointed by ourselves. The Governor appointed us into this panel and if you have anything against the panel, i’ll suggest you direct your petition to the appropriate quarters.’
Justice Ogisi also threatened to take the police lawyer on contempt. ‘I know you’re a policeman. I will take you to the right place. Even if you’re the Inspector General of Police, you cannot. You have no right. You have made it a personal matter.
‘If the governor disqualifies Harrison, then, he has to disqualify all of us in this panel for being bias. Write to the governor, we have no authority to entertain it here.’
Justice Ogisi also added that whatever Harission may have had with CSP Anietie Eyoh or any other police officer, he did same as a human right activist pointing out that he(Harrison) is a member of the panel by virtue of being a human rights activist.
Also reacting, the Secretary of the Judicial Panel and Solicitor General of the Ministry of Justice in Delta State, Mr Omamuzo Erebe, told the police lawyer that the panel will take the matter up with the Commissioner of Police.
Erebe who was very bittered over the manner the police lawyer presented the matter appealedyo him to stop playing to the gallery.
A member of the panel, Kelvin Ejumudo told the police lawyer to go ahead with his case if he had any and stop casting blames on members of the panel.
Mr. Gwamnishu Emefiena Harrison is the Coordinator of Behind Bars Human Rights Initiative and played a major role in the #EndSARS protest in the state.
A human right activist, Mr Oghenejabor Ikimi, Esq, in a chat with newsmen said the cases he is handling against CSP Anietie Eyoh were not personal as they still remain friends.