The chairman of the Edo State Judicial Panel of Inquiry for victims of SARS and related abuses, Justice Ada Ehigiamusoe has said that the panel now has an interpreter to facilitate its interaction with claimants having hearing and speech impairments.
She also this comes just as the panel has of late gone to sit at sight of happenings like a property at Ikpoba Hill area of Benin City and the University of Benin teaching hospital, UBTH, Ugbowo, to get needed evidence.
“We had to visit a lot of site of happenings. We were at Ikpoba Hill and visited Doris Dey and then we visited the UBTH and about two patients with hearing and speech impairments, who according to them got stray bullet wounds.
“We started sitting with interpreters even when we don’t have them, we got the services of one just in case, to accompany us to the UBTH and we took evidence from one of them but the other could not lift his hands (to respond to the) sign language. He said the injury is at the back of his spinal cord and so we could not take any evidence from him”.
On the litigation by a respondent against the panel she said, “We obey court orders. Though it has not been heard, the process has been served on us and I know as a retired judge, I know the processes that once it is served, we take notice and would not want to be seen disregarding processes of court. The matter has not been taken but we have been given notice that the matter is pending”.
Meanwhile Justice Ehigiamusoe has said that the panel which recently extended its sitting beyond 3 days a week up until 4pm will from next week extend its sitting till 5pm and for 5 days of the week.
She added that, “By Monday we are sitting five days a week, even the three times a week, we extended sittings beyond 3pm to 4pm. As From Monday we are extending it to 5pm”.
According to the Judge, “When we look at it if need be we can add Saturday as well. There is nothing prohibiting us from going to Saturdays. We intend to close on the 23rd of December 2020, and will convene again on the 28th. We will sit up to the 30th”.
On the expiry date of the panel she said, “The mandate of the panel is supposed to expire in three months, that’s ninety days. The expiry date is subject to renewal or expansion or extension is supposed to end in January.
“We did not expect the spate of petitions we got – already we got a hundred plus. As soon as we reemphasized the closing date, that is when people started rushing in”.