A mild drama ensued on Monday at the Ogun state Judicial Panel of Investigation when a police officer, Sergeant Adeleke Olalekan verbally attacked and allegedly threatened a member of the panel.
The incident happened during the sitting of the panel at the Magistrate Court 1, Isabo, Abeokuta.
The Sergeant accompanied his superior, CSP Gbenga Megbope, a respondent in a case to the panel sitting.
The Sergeant who was allegedly seen to be pointing finger and speaking disrespectfully in a manner suggestive of threat at panel members and could not explain why, was called up and booked for appropriate punishment as stipulated under the Commission of Inquiry law.
When the attention of the Chairman of the Panel, Justice Solomon Olugbemi (rtd) was drawn to the alleged threat, he asked the Sergeant to come forward and explain the rationale behind his action.
A retired Deputy Inspector General of Police and a member of the panel, Peter Ogunyanwo, was asking the Sergeant, “why are you disrespecting members of the panel?”
The visibly rattled police Sergeant, however, could not justify his action, but prostrated before the panel members, and begged for mercy.
“I don’t disrespect you sir. I know you sir (referring to the retired DIG). I can’t disrespect you sir,” the Sergeant said.
On his part, Megbope, who was the Commander of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) at Obada – Oko, also begged on the Sergeant behalf, saying “We are sorry sir.”
Responding to the attack, Justice Olugbemi described the Sergeant’s behaviour as a contempt and disregard for the panel.
Olugbemi said “Any act of disrespect, insult or threat to the Commissioners or any Panel members while sitting in Commission or any act of disrespect, insult or threat to a Commissioner or Panel members at any other time or place on account of his proceedings in his capacity as a Commissioner or Panel member shall be deemed to be an act of contempt within the meaning of this law under Section 16 of the same law.
“Any person who commits an act of contempt, whether the act is or is not committed in the presence of the Commissioners sitting in Commission, such person or persons shall be liable to summary conviction before a court of competent jurisdiction to be convicted and punished according to the tenet stipulated in the law”.
Olugbemi noted that the police sergeant ought to be recommended for trial at the Magistrate court, but, the Panel member who was disrespected, pleaded that the alleged offender be pardoned, having apologised, prostrated and pleaded for mercy and showing remorse.
Following the appeal, the panel refrained from recommending him for trial.
Olugbemi said, “The panel will no longer tolerate any act of disrespect to it or any of its members as the law would be allowed to take its course in any such further act”.
Speaking with journalists after the sitting, a former Commissioner of Police and the Commandant of Amotekun Security Outfit in Ogun State, Mr. David Ajibola Akinremi who witnessed the proceedings commended the Panel for doing thorough job at investigating petitions brought before it.
The Amotekun boss added that, “the setting up of the Judicial Panel was a welcome development as the wrongs of the past can be seen and solution proffered towards ensuring a better working relationship between the police and the members of the public for a better policing and a safer society”.