I express sadness and totally condemn the spate of attacks by officers and men of the Nigerian Police Force on legal practitioners across the country in the course of carrying out their legitimate duties.
This ugly trend has taken an alarming dimension and members of this noble profession may no longer fold our arms and watch helplessly as our colleagues become victims of police brutality.
It is unfortunate that in the recent past, our collective sensitivity has been assaulted by acts of police brutality meted out on our colleagues, such as; Miss Chiamaka Nwangwu of Onitsha branch, Dayo Abudu in Ijede, Ikorodu, Olakunle Kareem, whose brutalization by men of the Lion Building Police Station was captured on camera and Bernard Oyabevwe in Warri, among others.
Thursday’s allegation of invasion of the hallowed chambers of the Magistrate Court at Umuneke Nkor, Imo State, subsequent assault and brutalization of the presiding Magistrate, lawyers and detention of two lawyers; Messrs. Emma Eke and Chukwuemeka Anyanwu by men of the Nigerian Police led by the Divisional Police Officer of Umuneke Nkor, calls for an urgent and far reaching action by the Inspector General of Police.
According to reports, the policemen are alleged to have gone haywire after the Magistrate ruled against the prosecution, an action that obviously did not go down well with the police, who led by the DPO of the division are alleged to have resorted to the use of raw force, shooting sporadically into the air and attacking the Magistrate and lawyers, causing bodily harm to Eke and detained them at Ngor Okpala police station , where they were later transferred to the state command purportedly on the directives of the Imo State Commissioner of Police, where they are still being detained.
The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria and our legal system has made ample provisions for litigants who are not satisfied with judgments of courts to appeal, self help in whatever guise is not part of it. If the police are not satisfied with the order of the court, they should appeal and not resort to terrorizing and brutalizing lawyers and litigants.
The Police should be mindful in its dealing with the public and lawyers who are carrying out their legitimate duties, as it has the resources, manpower and training to carry out its statutory responsibilities in the most civilized manner in a democracy.Our expectations are that the police should mend its ways.
Arthur Obi Okafor (SAN)
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