Confusion trailed the proceedings at the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution for Victims of SARS related abuses and other matters as members engaged themselves in a shouting match following the decision to return the Lekki Toll Gate plaza to its owners, the Lekki Concession Company.
The Justice Doris Okuwobi-led panel granted LCC permission to repossess the plaza after taking arguments for and against the application made by counsel to the LCC Ltd, Demola Seriki for the re-opening of the facility.
While five members of the panel sat over the application of LCC to repossess the Lekki toll plaza and listened to submissions from the LCC, Lagos state government and EndSARS protesters counsel, the other four members of the panel abstained from sitting, only to emerge from the inner chamber to read a dissenting judgement.
The dissenters were led by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, representing the Civil Society; Ms. Patience Udoh representing the Civil Society; Rinu Oduala and Temitope Majekodunmi, representing #EndSARS protesters, while those with the majority judgement were Justice Doris Okuwobi (Rtd), chairman of the panel; Taiwo Lakanu DIG (Rtd.), Lucas Koyejo, Segun Awosanya and Oluwatoyin Odusanya.
The action of the four dissenting panel members were disputed by Mr. Rotimi Seriki (SAN), counsel of LCC and Mr. Olukayode Enitan (SAN), counsel of the Lagos State Government, who prevented Mr. Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa from reading his personal dissenting judgement as they accused him of being an interested party in the matter, having sued the Lagos state government over the Lekki tollgate plaza in the past. Their argument made Olu-Adegboruwa to step down from reading his dissenting opinion. The action of the dissenting panel members made the panel to adjourn all other cases slated for mention on Saturday.
The Lekki Toll plaza has been under the control of the panel since it began sitting in October following the #EndSARS protests against police brutality.
However, some members of the panel, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, alongside other three members of the panel, Patience Udoh (representing civil society), Rinuola Oduola and Temitope Majekodunmi (representing the youths) rejected the repossession and the reopening of the Lekki toll plaza.
Rinu on her Twitter page, said the approval cannot stand as a result of LCC’s inability to provide access to their CCTV servers for the forensic expert employed by the panel to authenticate the footage.
She noted that justice must be served and the decision cannot stand until investigation into the Lekki Toll Gate incident is concluded.
“Let it be known that today, I and @TemiOanu, dissented to the reopening of the Lekki Toll Gate on the Lagos Panel.
“This, as a result of LCC inability to provide access to their CCTV servers for the forensic expert employed by the panel to authenticate the footage they submitted
“We are of the view that the investigations into the Lekki Toll Gate incidence have barely begun, and so the Lekki Toll Gate should remain shut until full investigations are concluded by the Panel,” she said.
Rinu stressed that the ruling cannot hold because “a quorum was not formed with the youth representatives absent.”
In a Twitter thread, she wrote: “The ruling that Lekki Toll Gate should be reopened cannot hold, as a quorum wasn’t formed today with the youth representatives absent.
“It is also pertinent to note that 5 of 9 can’t form a proper quorum. You should also be noted that the ruling did not include our dissenting opinions as members of the panel.
“This stand is also taken by Ebun Adegboruwa SAN and Ms. Patience Udoh, members of the Civil society group.”
“Five other members of the panel held the view that the Toll Gate should be allowed to reopen. LCC has questions to answer. We remain committed to getting justice,” her tweet added.