The Lagos state Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution for victims of Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and related abuses yesterday dismissed a petition filed by one Paschal Bonu, seeking to enforce a N300 million court judgment against the police tactical team.
The eight-member panel presided over by retired Justice Doris Okuwobi threw out Bonu’s petition after it was informed that the subject matter of the petition is still before the Supreme Court.
The police counsel, Joseph Ebosereme, had informed the panel that though the Federal High Court awarded N300 million damages against the police in favour of Bonu, the police had since gone on appeal.
He maintained that although the Court of Appeal has delivered judgment in the case and upheld the judgment of the Federal High Court, the appellate court, however, reduced the N300 million damages to N30 million.
Ebosereme disclosed that the police not satisfied with the decision had further appealed to the Supreme Court and described the coming of the petitioner before the panel as an attempt to preempt the decision of the Supreme Court, adding that it would also amount to double jeopardy.
He argued that if the panel entertained the petition, it would open a floodgate for all persons who have pending fundamental rights cases in court to rush before the panel.
Ebosereme further claimed that despite the subsisting appeal before the Supreme Court, the petitioner’s lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje, was already making move to garnishee the account of the police and take N300 million, this is despite the fact that the Court of Appeal had reduced the judgment sum to N30 million.
Though T.O. Gazali, who stood in for Ogungbeje, disagreed with the police lawyer, the panel ruled in favour of the police and dismissed Bonu’s petition.
Justice Okuwobi held in her ruling that the panel would resist any temptation to bring it “on a collision course” with the appellate court.
She stated, “the panel will not fall into a judicial trap by taking on a case that is still pending before the Supreme Court, it is hereby struck out as it is considered incompetent, lacking in merit and abuse of court.’’