Verbal war as lawyers argue over CCTV footage of Lekki tollgate #EndSARS protest


An altercation ensued on Friday at the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry for Restitution for Victims of SARS and Related Abuses as counsel to the Lagos State government and his counterpart, representing #EndSARS protesters tried to convince the panel as to what to watch in a Closed Circuit Television footage tendered before it as evidence.
Mr Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN), counsel to the Lagos State Government wanted the panel to watch only portions of the 24-hour footage relevant to its assignment, while Mr Adesina Ogunlana, his counterpart, representing #EndSARS protesters, insisted that the entire footage must be watched.
The footage was a recording of events at the Lekki tollgate, Lagos, on October 20 where protesters were allegedly shot to death.
Counsel to the Lekki Concession Company (LCC), manager of the tollgate, tendered the footage when Mr Abayomi Omomuwasi, the managing director took the witness stand and it was admitted as exhibit by the nine-man panel headed by retired Justice Doris Okuwobi.
The panel ruled, however, that the entire footage would be watched.
The footage, which started playing from 12 a.m. of Oct. 20 showed dark scenery at the beginning with vehicles parked around the tollgate plaza and large clusters of #EndSARS protesters milling around.
Owonikoko also told the Panel of Inquiry that #EndSARS protesters were as a body not recognised by law.
He made the submission after Ogunlana announced his appearance to the panel as the counsel representing the #EndSARS protesters.
Ogunlana had informed the panel that he would be cross-examining Mr Abayomi Omomuwasan, the Managing Director of Lekki Concession Company (LCC).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Omomuwasan was appearing before the panel to testify on the October 20 shooting of #EndSARS protesters by members of the Nigerian military at the Lekki tollgate.
“To the best of my knowledge, there is no body called #EndSARS protesters and we know that a lawyer must adjudicate based on instruction.
“My learned friend is entitled to representing anyone recognised before the law. We must know the persons the counsel is representing.
“We cannot have anyone appearing for a body without any structure. The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), for instance, is a known public body with known structure,” Owonikoko said.
The LCC Counsel, Mr Rotimi Seriki, also aligned himself views with Owonikoko’s submission.
“He must represent a body known to law. The witness (LCC MD) appeared before the tribunal because they have evidence that would be of interest to the panel.
“We cannot allow every Tom, Dick and Harry to cross-examine the witness,” he said.
Responding, Ogunlana said he was neither a Tom, Dick or Harry, adding that he received his instruction from #EndSARS protesters, some of whom were present during proceedings.
“He (Seriki) is not in a position to describe my clients or leadership. It is because of #EndSARS protesters that we are here; it is because of the #EndSARS protesters that this panel was created.
“My lord did counsel a few days back that this is not a regular court but a fact-finding body. I’m not representing spirits; I’m representing actual persons,” he said.
Following his submission, Ogunlana presented three #EndSARS protesters, Victoria Oniru, Dabira Ayuku and Perpetua Kamsichukwu, as his clients.
Reacting, Owonikoko, however, said “these are decent people. I withdraw my objection.”
The LCC counsel also withdrew his objection, following the presentation of the #EndSARS protesters before the panel.


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