One of the petitioners, Basil Ejiagwa who was scheduled to be heard on Tuesday, November 24, 2020, at the Lagos Judicial Panel on Restitution for victims of brutality by the disbanded SARS Operatives, is dead.
His cousin, Chukwu Vincent who testified before the panel said he died exactly a week ago, on the 17th of November, 2020.
Ejiagwa was listed as the third petitioner to be heard but when his case was called, his counsel Olalekan Gazali told the panel that “the petitioner is no more, we lost him last week as a result of the torture meted to him by SARS.
“His wife came to the panel all the way from Imo State with his picture to show the state of his health but unfortunately the matter did not go on at the last sitting”, the counsel said.
The counsel further said that his client died as a result of the torture he suffered in the hands of SARS officials.
He asked the panel to allow him instead call on a family member to testify.
“He is being represented by a family member who has his death certificate, hospital bills other hospital records and is ready to testify on his behalf,” the counsel told the panel.
At this point, the counsel representing the police, Mr. Joseph Eboseremen raised an objection to the effect that it can’t be proven that his death was directly caused by the torture from SARS as it took place a while ago.
The Chairman of the Panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi agreed and striked out this statement.
The relative, Mr Chukwu Vincent, a businessman who describes himself as a cousin to the deceased is then called upon to testify.
“According to Basil, he was arrested by men of the police, on his way from work at Alaba while going home. He was taken to Igando Police Station where he spent five days. They damaged his legs while hitting him with a hammer while he was there and he was later taken to Ikeja.
“We rushed him to El-Shaddai Hospital at Iba/Igando.
“The hospital results said the ‘hitting’ was responsible. He even travelled abroad at some point and it was him who filed this matter,” the witness, Vincent testified.
Vincent added that, “We noticed gashes on his head from where he claimed to have been beaten by police with their guns. He was eventually diagnosed with a brain tumor. The incident happened in 2014 and we tried to treat it till 2017. I spent my personal money too and as time went by, it got worse and he began to lose his memory.
“When his condition was too severe, the family decided to move him out of Lagos to the east, then we started searching for a good lawyer to take up the case,” the witness said.
The Panel then admitted in evidence hospital documents including photocopies of drug prescription forms and a bill of N1m for his treatment. The hospital documents came from the Lagos State Government General Hospital in Alimosho and the El-Shaddai Hospital also in the Iba/Igando area of the state.
The panel also admitted a N40million judgement the deceased obtained in his favour from the Federal High Court, Lagos.
Through the witness, the family is appealing to the panel to help enforce the judgment against the police. The judgment was said to have been delivered on the 16th of April 2019.