*Says Chief Otomiewo Is An Ex-AG Of The State
*Says Some Ekpan Youths in Uvwie LGA of Delta State threaten his life and Of Other Lawyers For Offering Legal Service To A Member Of The Community
*Says The Youths Were Led By Victory Nanakparo, Douglas Abugu, Uvwie Ejeneye, Stanley Ashegbagba and others

The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Effrun Branch, has petitioned the Delta State Commissioner of Police over an alleged threat to the life of a member of the Branch, Chief Victor E. Otomiewo

In a letter made available to TheNigeriaLawyer signed by its Chairman, Dr. Jonathan Ekperusi, and Secretary, Kingsley Okes Idisi, the NBA said Chief Otomiewo who happens to be former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of the state was attacked by some Ekpan Youths in Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State for offering legal representation and providing legal services to a member of Ekpan Community who is alleged to have committed some offences.

The petition reads in part, “The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Effurun Branch wishes to request the Delta State Commissioner of Police to urgently investigate the circumstances surrounding the violent/armed threat by some Ekpan Youths in Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State led by Victory Nanakparo, Douglas Abugu, Uvwie Ejeneye, Stanley Ashegbagba and others to the life Chief Victor E. Otomiewo and other Lawyers in Ekpan and environs over the legitimate practice of law.

“In the morning of Monday, 22nd November 2021, the Leaders, Branch Officers and Members of the NBA Effurun Branch were inundated with social media videos and reports of the violent/armed threat to the life of Chief Victor E. Otomiewo, a very senior Lawyer who was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1982, a Leader of the NBA Effurun Branch, former Attorney-General & Commissioner for Justice of Delta State, former President-General of Uvwie General Improvement Union, former General Secretary of the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU), among others, over allegations of his legal representation and provision of legal services to a member of Ekpan Community who is alleged to have committed some offences.

“Reports indicate that sporadic gunshots were fired by the said Ekpan youths around the residential premises of Chief Victor E. Otomiewo early in the morning of Monday, 22nd November, 2021. The shooting was immediately followed by a procession of the said youths, carrying placards with various inscriptions and purporting to ostracize Chief Victor E. Otomiewo, the Unuevworo of Ekpan, from Ekpan Community and purporting to impose fines and other penalties on any member of the Community who interacts or have dealings with Chief Victor E. Otomiewo, over his legal representation and provision of legal services to some members of the Community. The timely intervention of the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of the Ekpan Division saved the situation from further deteriorating.

“The said youths have since posted the video recordings of the said incidence on different social media platforms, in flagrant violation of the provisions of the Cyber Crimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act 2015 with the intention apparently to disparage the person and legal practice of Chief Victor E. Otomiewo and to criminally expose him to hatred, odium, opprobrium, contempt and ridicule as well as to cause other persons to shun or avoid him and to discredit him in his office and profession as a Lawyer.”

The Branch expressed concern that similar incident had happened before when youths invaded the premises of the High Court, Warri and physically attacked and assaulted Chief Efecha Leo Akpofure, SAN over his legal representation and provision of legal services to some of the parties involved in the dispute relating to succession to the hallowed throne of the Olu of Warri.

The NBA described the situation as “disturbing and a direct affront to the legitimate practice of law” adding that as critical stakeholders in the administration of justice system, Lawyers need to be protected in the practice of their profession. That members of the public also need to be regularly reminded that Lawyers play active roles on the various segments of the administration of justice system, including providing services for victims of crimes, the defence of suspects (who are entitled to the presumption of innocence guaranteed and protected by the Nigerian Constitution), advisory and enlightenment support for members of the larger community, co-operation and professional assistance to security personnel involved in the prevention and prosecution of crimes/criminals, among others.

They therefore called on the COP to treat the petition as a matter of urgency.

“The leadership of the NBA Effurun Branch finds the above development very disturbing and a direct affront to the legitimate practice of law by Chief Victor E. Otomiewo and other Lawyers in Ekpan and its environs. It would be recalled that not too long ago, a similar incidence was witnessed when youths invaded the premises of the High Court, Warri and physically attacked and assaulted Chief Efecha Leo Akpofure, SAN over his legal representation and provision of legal services to some of the parties involved in the dispute relating to succession to the hallowed throne of the Olu of Warri. It is becoming a very dangerous trend that must be nipped in the bud.

“As critical stakeholders in the administration of justice system, Lawyers need to be protected in the practice of their profession. Members of the public also need to be regularly reminded that Lawyers play active roles on the various segments of the administration of justice system, including providing services for victims of crimes, the defence of suspects (who are entitled to the presumption of innocence guaranteed and protected by the Nigerian Constitution), advisory and enlightenment support for members of the larger community, co-operation and professional assistance to security personnel involved in the prevention and prosecution of crimes/criminals, among others. The Judicial Arm of Government would grind to a complete halt if Lawyers withdraw their services for fear of being attacked in the line of duty. While promoting the rule of law and defending human rights and fundamental freedoms, Lawyers themselves need to be protected from the very social ills that they are fighting against.

“At the Branch Officers (Executive Committee) Meeting of the NBA Effurun Branch held on Monday, 22nd November, 2021 at the Bar Centre, High Court Complex, Effurun the Branch Officers resolved that this petition be written to you to request you to use your good offices to urgently cause a thorough investigation to be undertaken with a view to ensuring that justice is done in the matter.

“We humbly urge you to take this petition as a matter of urgent importance and look forward to a timely response from you.” the petition further reads

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