Lawyers representing the Lagos State government and the Lekki Concession Company (LCC), Olukayode Enitan and Rotimi Seriki, on Saturday approached the state’s Judicial Panel of Inquiry to strike out evidences presented by a leading witness of the last year’s #EndSARS protest in Lekki, Sarah Ibrahim.
Their application follows the continuous absence of the witness at the panel, the lawyers said.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how Ms Ibrahim in April told the panel that she witnessed the shooting by the Nigerian Army at the Lekki tollgate. She said at least 10 persons were killed during the October 20 incident.
This newspaper also reported that the witness who made her last appearance on August 7 faulted portions of the autopsy reports tendered by John Obafunwa, a forensic pathologist to the judicial panel of inquiry.
Mr Enitan, who requested that Ms Ibrahim’s evidence be dismissed, told the panel that the witness had been evading cross-examination after making “outrageous” claims.
“This will be about the fourth court sitting that this particular witness had failed to turn up,” he said.
“The witness was available to lead all manner of scandalous outrageous evidence in chief but when cross examination commenced it has been epileptic attendance on the part of the witness.”
“It is my humble submission that the witness having failed to present herself to be cross-examined her evidence to continue and to be included to be deemed to have abandoned the cause. I will therefore urge that all evidence was given by this particular witness be expunged from the record.”
Supporting his colleague’s application, Mr Seriki said Ms Ibrahim had refused to attend the proceedings.
“My Lord we also will be obliged that the evidence of the witness is expunged having not been fully tested by cross-examination.
“My Lord, it is also noteworthy that the counsel for the #EndSARS protester, (Adeshina) Ogunlana, is also not here at the sitting,” Mr Seriki said.
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A retired judge and the head of the panel, Doris Okwuobi, asked if they wanted the witness’s entire testimony to be struck out.
Mr Enitan in his response said, “It is the entirety of the testimony, a witness comes and give evidence in chief and to be cross-examined by as many parties as are responding to that testimony, where the witness fails to present to be cross-examined by all of those respondents, her evidence in chief cannot stand because the veracity of that evidence in chief is to be tested by the weight of the cross-examination added together.”
However, Jonathan Ogunsanya, one of the panel’s lawyers said the witness and the lawyers were informed by the court registrar of the scheduled proceeding but “Ogunlana sent a notice that he was otherwise engaged.”
Mrs Okuwobi, while giving her verdict, said a decision would be taken by the panel. She adjourned the matter till September 11.