Owerri NBA boycotts courts over alleged police invasion, colleagues’ mistreatment
Command deny claim, insist officers went to re-arrest robbery suspects
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Owerri branch, will today through Wednesday, July 25, boycott court activities to protest against alleged assault on the Chief Magistrate of Umuneke Ngor Court in Ngor Opkala Local Council of Imo State, Ngozi Onyenemezu.
It is also protesting against alleged police manhandling of their colleagues, Emma Eke and Chukwuemeka Anyanwu last Thursday in the court’s jurisdiction led by the Divisional Police Officer (DPO).
In a statement at the weekend on the Facebook wall of the President of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Wisdom Durueke, the lawyers expressed dismay and disappointment over the development, saying a similar incident occurred in 2016/2017 at the same police division.
The group stressed that the invasion was contemptuous and constituted a disruption of administration of justice.
Chairman of NBA, Owerri chapter, Damian Nosike, condemned the act while speaking with journalists at the weekend, after a Magistrate Court presided over by R.O.C Nwoka, granted Eke and Anyanwu, who were arraigned in court on Friday, July 20, bail on self recognition.
The court also ordered the police to release the car belonging to one of the lawyers before adjourning to July 30, for further hearing.
The Guardian learnt that Onyenemezu, had on Tuesday, July 17, at the Umuneke Ngor Magistrate Court, had in a case preferred against three armed robbery suspects arraigned by the police, entertained the argument between the defence counsels, Eke and Anyanwu and the claimant’s counsel.
The defence counsels had raised preliminary objection, maintaining that the accused persons be dismissed and strike out the case on the grounds that the charge was defective. But the claimant’s counsel argued that the charge was in order.
Later, Nwoka fixed Thursday, July 19, for ruling, but on resumed sitting, she dismissed the accused persons on the grounds that the case was defective.
However, the police officers led by the DPO were dissatisfied over the ruling and opted the discharged persons to be re-arrested. But in the process, they fought the defence counsels over the matter, while the discharged suspects escaped, which led to the arrest of the lawyers.
Consequently, efforts made by Nosike and his executive members to secure the release of the lawyers who were immediately taken to cell at the police division, failed as they were detained on instructions from the police headquarters, Owerri and were later transferred to the Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (CIID).
They were arraigned in the magistrate’s court 1 in Owerri on Friday, July 20, 2018.
Meanwhile, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Andrew Enwerem, said on Gold 89.3 FM radio, Akabo, Ikeduru, at the weekend that the police were not ready to comment on a matter because it was already in court.