The Nigerian Army authorities on Saturday was alleged to have rejected witness summons, issued for Major General Godwin Umelo and Lieutenant Colonel S.O Bello by the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution for Victims of Sars related abuses and the Lekki toll gate Incident.
THE NATIONS EXPRESS learnt that both men were summoned by the panel to explain their role in the Military’s operation at the Lekki Toll Gate during the #EndSARS protests on October 20, that reportedly saw several lives cut short.
It was learnt that Bello was the Commanding Officer If the 65 Batallion, which was at the toll gate on the evening of m that ill fated day.
However, at the resumption of the panel’s proceedings on Friday, neither Umelo nor Bello were available, the Military ’s counsel was also absent.
The panel’s lawyer, Mr. Jonathan Ogunsanya stated that it had twice tried to serve the witness summons on the Army, but Soldiers at the gate rejected service.
Ogunsanya said, “It was on the order of this honourable panel that summons of the witness was issued and served to Major General Godwin Umelo for today’s proceedings and the same was received on the 30th of November 2020 precisely at 6:04 pm.”
He however, advised the panel to serve the officers through the Army ’s counsel after they failed to appear on the resumption of hearing.
Also, one of the #EndSARS protesters’ counsel, Mr Adesina Ogunlana, agreed that the officers should be re-summoned because the Military’s position is subject to civil authority.
Ogunlana said, “I think it is a bit of an affront that summons coming from a panel like this will be refused. The panel should take a very serious view of this.”
In her ruling on the matter, Judge Emeritus Doris Okuwobi ordered that the officers should be served their summons through the Military’s counsel.
She said, “In the light of those submissions, it is hereby ordered that service on Lt. Col Bello shall be effected through their counsel on record. The first summons shall be issued to Maj General Omelo, on or before the next adjourned date, which is the eighth day of January 2021 then the matter will come up for further hearing.”