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Continued from last week
Few months after the inauguration of Olumide Akpata as the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, 25-year-old lawyer Bisola Ajayi was abducted in broad day light by dare-devil kidnappers on Sunday, the 4th of October, 2020 who invaded her family house in Rumuokwurusi in Obio-Akpor Local Government Area. The NBA President had to direct two of the NBA National Officers (I and the immediate past 1st Vice President, John Aikpokpo-Martins) to immediately relocate to Port Harcourt to monitor and work with the State Police Command to ensure her early release. Two days thereafter, she was released unhurt and with no ransom paid. Some of the kidnappers were arrested by the special squad constituted by the Rivers State Commissioner of Police. Her rescue was made easy as a result of deployment of technology. In 2014, two young Warri-based lawyers Horace Egwuono Dafiaghor and Samuel Ekwughanju while driving toCourtin Ozoro, Isoko North Local Government Area of Delta State were ambushed and murdered by assassins. Till date, the Police refused to investigate the matter inspite of pressure by the Nigerian Bar Association, Warri branch that the assassination was politically-motivated.
The story of lawyers being assaulted, threatened, intimidated and abducted is now replete in most of the States in Nigeria. Harassment by members of the Nigerian Police Force, the State Security Service, the military and now, the men of the underworld has become the lot of the Nigerian lawyer, who is only performing his professional duty of offering legal advice and representation to his clients. According to Christopher Alexander Sapara Williams (14 July 1855 – 15 March 1915) who was the first indigenous Nigerian lawyer, called to the English bar on 17th of November 1879 a “lawyer lives for the direction of his people and the advancement of the cause of his country”.
Eleven days after his abduction, Chief Okey Wali, SAN is yet to be released nor his whereabouts known. The NBA President, Y.C. Maikyau, SAN in ensuring that all hands are on deck led a delegation of the NBA to visit the family of Chief Okey Wali, SAN; the Rivers State Commissioner of Police; the two policemen that were injured and only recently, the top echelon of the Police Command in Abuja. Lawyers’ lives matter and we urge the Inspector General of Police and the State Security Service to be more proactive in their core responsibility of protecting the lives and properties of Nigerians, which is also the primary reason for having a government.
According to prominent human rights activist, Femi Falana, SAN “The N240 billion earmarked security votes every year are diverted and pocketed by a few public officers, Lawyers need to ensure that the security votes are used to motivate the security personnel and acquire modern security gadgets”. This again, makes the continued debate on State Police necessary. In a federation of more than 210 million people, it is almost impossible for a centralized police command to effectively manage the security challenges of the entire country. While, we hope that the institutions responsible for providing security for Nigerians up their game, let it be known that lawyers’ lives also matter.
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