The Lagos State judicial panel on Restitution for Victims of SARS-related abuses has heard the evidence of a pathologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Sunday Soyemi in the petition of the late Charles Otoo.
The witness, who is also a lecturer at the college of medicine, LASUTH, says he examined the corpse of Mr. Otoo and that his death was caused by a severe brain injury following a gunshot to the skull during the violent aftermath of the EndSARS protests at the Ojodu Divisional police station last October.
The witness added he also extracted the bullet from the deceased which he presented to the panel. But, Lawyer for the Lagos State Government, Abiodun Owonikoko alerted the panel that a Coroner’s inquest is also hearing the case and so cautioned that the exhibit be preserved and not tampered with, more so, since the accompanying ballistician’s report was still pending.
Upon agreement by all counsel, the Panel ordered that the bullet be returned to the custody of LASUTH for safekeeping, and admitted four pictures of the bullet extracted from the late Mr. Etoo, as well as a post mortem report on the deceased prepared by a LASUTH team headed by Professor John Obafunwa.
The panel also dismissed the request of Police Counsel, Joseph Ebhoseremen for an adjournment to study the postmortem report and granted a one hour stand-down of the case instead, noting that the report is a standard document that doesn’t require research.
Upon resumption of hearing, the police concluded its defence, presenting its final witness, ASP Lukmon Sowemimo. According to the Station Manager at the Ojodu Division, he said that he worked closely with the DPO during the tensions and that, on October 20, the DPO had asked all personnel at the station to stand down. He added that when the protesters came to the station, the DPO alerted community leaders to assist. He denied having a hand in the killing of the late Charles Otoo, as alleged by his widow, Victoria in her testimony.
When he was shown the picture of the bullet that killed the deceased, he affirmed that the bullet was shot from a pistol, which can only kill at close range unlike a rifle that kills from afar. He also said the DPO secured the arms and ammunition base when protesters came to burn down the station
Upon cross examination, he said a rifle can shoot at a target as far as 350 metres away, still causing maximum damage as against his earlier assertion of 40 metres.
As both counsel adopted their final addresses upon close of case, the Petitioner’s counsel, A.O. Lema urged the panel to find the Police Force culpable in the alleged killing, stressing “the inconsistencies of the evidence of he respondents’ witnesses”, but Police counsel, Joseph Ebhoseremen said that position goes to no issue.
The Panel says it has reserved its decision and will communicate the date to deliver its ruling to the parties.
Also, the joint Petitions of Tobe Ikoro and Chidera Robinson over alleged brutality by SARS officers resumed with the viewing of a video clip presented by the petitioners, showing the scuffle with the operatives at the Jibowu, Yaba area.
The petitioners are asking for a refund of the N100,000 which they paid to the SARS team under duress as well as, due compensation for the extortion and assault. During cross examination, Mr Ikoro insisted that the men who accosted them in the e-hailing cab on September 24, 2020 were SARS operatives dressed in their black vests and armed with guns.