Access to Justice condemns killing of customary court judge
Urges Imo governor to end politically-motivated violence
Access to Justice has condemned the gruesome killing of a customary court judge, Nnaemeka Ugboma, in Imo State, by unknown persons in open court on February 2, 2023.
The group urged Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, to end politically motivated violence.
The group lamented that the horrendous and vicious attack on the administration and delivery of justice in Imo has escalated the systematic pattern of attacks on institutions and infrastructure of justice in the State for a long time.
In a statement, the group lamented that physical buildings of courts in the State have been routinely attacked and burnt over a considerable period now, the vile, brutal killing of Ugboma takes the intimidation of the judiciary to whole new levels, unprecedented in Nigeria’s history.
“There are reports that, prior to this time, some courts had virtually stopped sitting in the state because of safety concerns, and the targeting and killing of a judicial officer in the course of carrying out judicial functions will amplify and aggravate fears of insecurity, which judicial officers, and indeed, residents of the state entertain.
“It is unfortunate that Nigeria’s security forces were unable to prevent the killing of Ugboma, in spite of clear evidence that institutions of justice have been very specifically targeted and were susceptible to these attacks by unknown persons. It is also, on balance, possible to infer that the killing of Ugboma is not unconnected with, or facilitated by the government’s politicisation of safety, security and well-being in Imo State, and the war of attrition that characterises the conflict between government forces and those of persons of unknown affiliations, or, as characteristically called, unknown gunmen. Unfortunately, Imo State has been a hotbed and stamping ground for politically-motivated killings and violence against members of the political opposition,” the group said.
Access to Justice further urged Uzodimma to develop a feasible and inclusive strategy to bring an end to political violence that has enveloped the State, and renounce the incendiary “fire for fire” approach to the security problems; an approach that has drawn more violence and retaliation, and results in spiraling bloodbaths and extrajudicial killing of Imo people.
“Chief justice of Nigeria and Imo State chief judge must act now to prevent further attacks. The Imo State judiciary must demand better protection of its judges and court houses, and the Chief Judge of Imo State, working in lockstep with the Chief Justice of Nigeria, should take up issues of safety and security of Judges and courthouses in the State with the Federal Government and its security forces. The Federal Government must address the security situation in Imo State with urgency and forthrightness,” the group urged.