President of the Nigerian Bar Association, A.B. Mahmoud SAN has written a letter to the Nigerian Inspector General of Police asking him to cause the investigation of incidences of invasion of courts in Nigeria by men of the Nigerian Police Force. This was contained in a letter dated the 16th day of May 2018. According to him, this is necessary following the various reports of an assault on the bar and the bench which has not only threatened the rule of the law but the whole democratic process. Meanwhile, the Nigerian Bar Association Owerri branch has resolved to boycott courts within its jurisdiction from Monday, the 23rd of July, 2018 to Wednesday, the 25th of July, 2018. The decision was taken as a direct response to the police invasion of the Magistrate Court in Imo State which has led to a mixed reaction in the legal community. Below is the full text of the statement made available to The Nigeria Lawyer 16 May 2018 Ibrahim Kpotum Idris, NPM, mni, Inspector General of Police (IGP), The Nigeria Police Force Headquarters, Louis Edet House, Abuja FCT. Dear IGP, THREATS TO ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE AND THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION. I am compelled by recent developments in the country to write this letter, to express my deep concern and that of the Nigerian Bar Association over events that threaten the rule of law and administration of justice in the country. 1. On Friday 11 May 2018, the country received with shock, the news of an armed invasion and destruction of facilities within the premises of the High Court of Rivers State in Port Harcourt. The media reports on the above-referenced incident suggest that the invasion was masterminded by politicians and executed by political thugs acting on behalf of warring factions of a registered political party in the country. These actions were also believed to be a deliberate attempt to frustrate and prevent the High Court of Rivers State from carrying out its constitutional duty. Naturally, the Nigerian Bar Association, the entire legal community and indeed all well-meaning Nigerians are completely aghast by the audacious and irresponsible actions of these individuals. I need not say that this portends grave threat to the administration of justice. It is also threat to our democracy and the rule of law. 2. The recent events in Rivers State occurred on the heels of the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association in Kano at which various matters of national importance were discussed by members of the Association. Amongst these, were reports of various acts of harassment and intimidation perpetrated by officers of the Nigerian Police Force against our members in various branches of the Association across the Country, specifically; Onitsha, Ikeja, Abuja and several other branches. These reports have become so frequent and regular that the NEC of the NBA now considers this development as a threat to the independence of the legal profession. I need not remind the IGP that Nigerian lawyers form an integral part of the stakeholders in the administration of justice and must retain the ability to carry out their duties to their clients and have unhindered access to persons accused of any criminal offence or in the custody of the police anywhere in the country. An independent bar is therefore a scared pillar of any democratic society. 3. Furthermore, I have only just received a report on 8 May 2018 from the Calabar Branch of the NBA, concerning a quarrel involving a Police officer attached to a consulate in Calabar, Cross River State and the private security personnel of the official residential quarters of Justices of the Court of Appeal in Calabar, which escalated into the assault and unlawful arrest of the private security personnel and domestic workers in the Justices’ quarters on the instructions of the Divisional Police Officer of the State Housing Police Station, Calabar. I understand a report of this incident was lodged with the Commissioner of Police for Cross Rivers State and Assistant Inspector General of Police (Zone 6). 4. The protection of our courts and judges, as well as the provision of unhindered access by lawyers to persons in need of legal representation without intimidation, threats or harassment are fundamental rights under Nigerian law which are guaranteed under the Constitution. In addition, Nigeria is a signatory and party to several United Nations Conventions and other international instruments which impose a duty on the country to protect our courts, judicial officers, lawyers and court personnel. 5. I wish to therefore call on you as the Inspector General of Police to, as a matter of urgency: a. Cause an immediate investigation into the Friday 11 May 2018 invasion of the High Court of Rivers State, with a view to identifying the perpetrators, no matter how highly placed and instituting appropriate criminal proceedings against them; b. Cause an investigation into the security breach at the Court of Appeal Quarters in Calabar, Cross Rivers State and take appropriate disciplinary action against the officers of the Nigerian Police Force involved in same, and; c. Issue appropriate directions to all police formations across the Country, on access to suspects or detainees by lawyers and the need to accord due respect to lawyers who visit police stations for the purpose of carrying out their professional duties without harassment, intimidation or threats. 6. These steps will send appropriate messages not only to Nigerian lawyers and judicial officers, but indeed to all law abiding citizens and reinforce confidence in the country’s law enforcement agencies and the legal system. Nigeria cannot afford to condone or tolerate such brazen affronts on our courts and the legal profession. 7. I want to assure the IGP that, on our part, the Nigerian Bar Association will continue to educate and enlighten our members on the need to maintain proper decorum and conduct whenever our members visit police stations across the country. The Association expects no less from its members. Whilst conveying our highest professional regards to the IGP, I look forward to your immediate response and assurances of positive measures to address these concerns. Yours Sincerely, Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud, OON, SAN, FCIArb. President, Nigerian Bar Association Cc: The Chief Justice of Nigeria Supreme Court of Nigeria Three – Arms Zone, FCT, Abuja. The President Court of Appeal Court of Appeal Headquarters FCT, Abuja. The Hon. Attorney General and Minister of Justice Federal Ministry of Justice FCT, Abuja. The Governor of Rivers State Government House Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The Chief Judge of Rivers State High Court of Justice Rivers State Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The Governor of Cross River State Government House Calabar, Cross River State. The Chief Judge of Cross River State High Court of Justice Cross River State Calabar, Cross River State.]]>

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