Lawyers in Akwa Ibom State are set to offer free legal services to victims of Police Brutality.
This was contained in a release issued by Lawyers Coalition for Justice over the weekend, in view of the newly constituted Judicial Panel of Inquiry put in place in the State.
“We have decided to lend a helping hand to this process of healing, and therefore call on victims of police brutality within the state to speak up without fear or intimidation in order to speed up the process of putting these past ills behind us”, the volunteer Lawyers stated.
“The group has volunteered to provide ‘pro bono’ legal services, resources for production of evidentiary materials, secretariats for preparation and warehousing of documents, a reservoir of other professionals such as medical personnel who are willing to give free professional services and generally offer such petitioners the necessary assistance, as they seek redress and justice for the wrongs done them”, the release explains.
According to the release, the initiative which is to provide required legal services to identified victims, free of all charges, and to ensure justice for those whose rights were infringed upon.
In the release signed by the Convener, Lawyers Coalition for Justice, Abasumo Bassey, Esq. and the Lead Counsel, Etim Offiong, Esq., the volunteers commended the Governor Udom Emmanuel for setting up the Judicial Panel of Inquiry to look into petitions of the victims of police brutality in the state and called on well-meaning individuals, professional groups, church organizations and civil society organizations to step up in supporting the noble cause to assist such victims within Akwa Ibom communities whose rights had been severely infringed and trampled upon, in the hope of healing the wounds of the past as well as enthroning a just and egalitarian Nigerian society.
Speaking earlier on the rationale for the Coalition, one of the leading brains behind the novel initiative said, “The body is an innovative intervention to step into the solution space in order to aid the process of justice and facilitate the healing of the souls of all victims of police brutality in Nigeria, starting from Akwa Ibom State”.
“Take for instance, a former taxi driver who was brutalized, dehumanized, maimed and now sits on a wheel chair, completely bereft of the ability to feed himself and his family. While the setting up of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry is a welcome development, tell me, how can such victim of police brutality understand what is required to articulate his case and present before the Panel? He may not even have the awareness, the confidence, the expertise to make his case or the resources to engage the services of a lawyer to help him articulate his case. And so, this is where Lawyers Coalition for Justice comes in to fill the gaps and to do these completely free of all charges on the victim”, he narrated.
Victims in Uyo axis can reach the Coalition through Barr. Etim Offiong on 08034282146: C/O Bar Centre, Akwa Ibom State Judiciary Headquarters, Wellington Bassey Way, Uyo or Barr. Mfon Asanaenyi on 08022356520 at Sylvester Utuk & Associates, 174, Ikot Ekpene Road, Uyo.
Those in Ikot Ekpene axis can reach Barr. David Ekpo on 08037801072 at David Ekpo & Associates, 1 Ukam Road, Off Market Road, Ikot Ekpene. Those in the neighborhood of Oron can reach Barr. Tokunbo Eno Toyo at Otoyo & Associates, 288, Oron Road, Oron; while those in Eket and it environs can reach Barr. Mfon Etukudo of Etukudo & Etukudo Chambers, 13, Idua Road, Eket on 08064163566.
It would be recalled that the setting up of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry by many states in Nigeria, including Akwa Ibom, followed a two-week period of nationwide #ENDSARS protests championed by Nigerian youths to demonstrate their pains, angst and anger over the high handed brutality meted out on the civil populace by men of the Nigeria Police Force, especially its Special Anti-Robbery Squad division, popular by the epithet SARS. Though the #ENDSARS protest had later degenerated into widespread violence, looting, mayhem and hooliganism perpetuated by some elements who at some point, hijacked the hitherto peaceful protests after the alleged notorious October 20, 2020 shooting of protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos by security operatives; the Nigerian Federal Government alongside various State Governments have expressed commitments towards fulfilling the noble demands of the initial #ENDSARS protesters. The setting up of a Judicial Panel of Inquiry to investigate cases of Police brutality is the first step towards meeting such demands.