By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
The Lagos Judicial Panel on Restitution for victims of SARS related abuses yesterday awarded N7.5 million as compensation to Marc Chidebere Nwadi, who was illegally detained for six years by some operatives of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The panel headed by retired Justice Doris Okuwobi held its decision on the petition that Nwadi had suffered unduly in the hands of police officers.
She said, “The petitioner was incarcerated in the prime of his life without justification for six years and was never tried or sentenced for any crime despite enduring a long six-year stay in prison and losing a vital part of his youth and opportunities.”
“Failure of Investigating Police Officer to charge the suspect to court within the prescribed time as stipulated in the constitution should resolve in being sanctioned by the Nigerian Police Force and being suspended for 6 months without pay. Other officers directly involved in the investigation should be suspended for three months without pay.
“A daily audit should be carried out by DPO and Human right desk for the purpose of ensuring that suspects are charged to court in the stipulated time frame in the constitution and incidents of extortion are reduced and eventually eliminated.
“Six officers should be made to undergo a minimum of four training in a year on self-restraint and human rights. Such training should prioritize the need of all officers to take personal responsibility for their actions. Arresting officers should ensure relatives of people in custody are aware of their arrest and circumstance of their arrest, he held.
Justice Okuwobi presented a cheque of N7.5 million to the petitioner on behalf of the state government.
The petitioner had told the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on November 28, 2020 that he spent six years behind bars after SARS operatives arrested him in 1999 shortly after he arrived Lagos from his home town.
He claimed that he was to stay with his brother who lives in the Egbeda area of the state but when he got there, he was told his brother no longer lived there and he could not reach him on phone.
Nwadi said, on the second day, on his way to Ojuelegba via Oshodi to meet an uncle who could help, he was arrested by some policemen from Idimu Police Station.