To live on in Nigeria’s prison occupation in this day and age, practitioners and judges require abilities in the martial arts; nimbleness of toes on an Olympian scale; guns dealing with; to not point out complicated coaching in subterfuge. Sadly, those aren’t presented on the curriculum of the Nigerian Law School nor in judicial orientation. Even with those abilities bolstered through a wing and a prayer, being attached with the trade of the prison procedure in Nigeria nowadays is ceaselessly existence endangering.
In August 2015, Nigeria’s State Security Service (SSS) announced that they’d arrested participants of a kidnapping syndicate who had been about to abduct judges sitting on election petitions in Owerri, capital of Imo state. They named the chief of that syndicate as one Chibueze Henry, who went through the operational alias, Vampire. Charges adopted towards Vampire and his gang whose trial started in Owerri, the following yr.
Now, the High Court in Owerri occupies a distinguished piece of actual property, a shouting distance between the administrative center of the State Governor and the headquarters of the Imo State Police Command. Entrance into the premises is managed through gates, controlled through safety people who find themselves public officers. In considered one of the court docket halls in this premises, the trial of Vampire and his gang used to be scheduled to proceed on the morning of 27 January, 2017.
As officers of the Nigeria Prison Service (because it used to be then referred to as) drove into the court docket premises, a black Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) at the again of the convoy, sped previous them, preventing abruptly. A horde of guys armed with attack rifles jumped down from the SUV and began capturing indiscriminately. As judges, court docket staff, legal professionals, and court docket customers scampered, the attackers liberated Vampire who fled along side as much as 29 different detainees. The assault killed a minimum of two individuals, leaving many others injured.
Imo State, the place this incident passed off, have been a web site of focused violence towards judges and legal professionals for over a decade. In March 2011, high court judges in the state embarked on a strike to protest the abduction of 1 their colleagues, Theophilus Nzekwe. He used to be no longer the first.
One year earlier, the judge-president of the state’s Customary Court of Appeal, Ambrose Egu; and senior Magistrate, Pauline Njemanze, had been kidnapped close to the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport close to Owerri on professional tasks.
In 2009, Florence Duroha-Igwe, every other choose of the Imo State High Court, suffered an assault by which each her motive force and police orderly sustained serious gunshot accidents.
Emboldened through the absence of duty, those assaults would develop in each frequency and brazenness. In October 2019, a senior Justice of Appeal from the state, Chioma Nwosu-Iheme, used to be kidnapped in Benin City, whilst on accountability presiding over election disputes. She spent a fortnight in captivity.
In September, 2021, former Chief Judge of Abia State, Nnenna Oti, used to be kidnapped in Orlu, Imo State. Seven months previous, Presiding Justice of Appeal in Owerri, Rita Pemu, navigated the perils of abduction and conceivable assassination with an additional provide of local wiles.
Magistrate and court docket inspector, Oderachukwu Onumajulu, used to be no longer so fortunate. As a kid, Odera at all times wanted to be a choose. In 2016, she climbed the first rung in her ambition when she used to be admitted to the Nigerian Bar. Three years later, she become a Magistrate in Imo State. On 22 May, 2021, unidentified males shot and kidnapped Odera at the Customary Court of Appeal in Owerri, the place she labored as courts inspector. One month later, in June 2022, she died from her accidents.
Odera used to be the 2nd judicial determine to be killed in line of accountability in the state in as a few years. On 23 November, 2018, a frame discovered dumped alongside Amucha Road in Njaba Local Government Area (LGA) in Orlu Zone, Imo State, used to be recognized as the stays of Remi Ogu, a Chief Magistrate in the neighbouring Oru LGA. Remi and his court docket registrar, Uju Nwanne, had been kidnapped the earlier day from their accountability put up. In March 2019, the police in the state paraded one Friday Nnaekezie, who claimed that he masterminded the abduction and killing of the Chief Magistrate.
Orlu zone, the place Remi used to be killed, has transform the epicentre of mass atrocities dedicated in the identify of agitation. Three months earlier than Remi’s homicide, in August 2018, unidentified men incinerated the High Court and Magistrate’s court docket constructions in the town with all their information and archives. Four years later, on 17 December, 2022, they returned to complete the process.
One of the extra vocal voices at the Bar in Orlu used to be Darlington Odume, who become a legal professional in 2016. The group admired him for his preventing qualities, evaluating him to the lion. So, they referred to as him “Omekagu”. In mid-September 2021, whilst out to acquire groceries for his family in Orlu, unidentified gunmen assassinated Omekagu. He used to be married to a police girl in a location the place it had transform unhealthy to be related to one.
2021 used to be a in particular dangerous yr for legal professionals round the nation. The month after Omekagu’s homicide in Orlu, Ajah Ogbonna Ajah and every other of his colleagues, each legal professionals, had been killed on the highway through unidentified gunmen whilst on their method to court docket in Abakaliki, the capital of Ebonyi State in south-east Nigeria.
They had been not at all the simplest sufferers in the area or in the yr. In May, former High Court judge, Stanley Nnaji, died, assassinated through unknown individuals on the streets of Enugu State.
In November, 2021, seven unidentified men macheted to death Kenechukwu Okeke, in Nkpor, in Anambra State. They killed him in the presence of his spouse and younger daughter. Okeke, a legal professional, have been outspoken in his give a boost to of Nigeria’s ban on Twitter.
These killings of legal professionals, magistrates, and judges weren’t restricted to south-east Nigeria. On 17 February, 2021, gunmen shot and killed Nkiru Agbasu, a pregnant legal professional, alongside the Warri-Sapele Road in Delta State.
As in Imo State, Nkiru died in a state with a report of no penalties for the killing of legal professionals. In March 2014, unidentified gunmen reportedly wearing police uniforms assassinated two legal professionals, Eguno Dafiaghor and Samuel Ekuwangi on the Azoro-Asaba highway in Delta State. It used to be extensively suspected that they “were murdered as a result of the high profile case they were handling at the High Court, Ozoro.”
Just a little over three hundred and sixty five days later, in April 2015, unidentified males performed the chair of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Ughelli, Austin Icheghe, in his place of dwelling in entrance of his circle of relatives and with out penalties.
Impunity additionally explains lack of confidence amongst legal professionals in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital. In October 2013, the police discovered the mutilated remains of Ijeoma Micah in her regulation administrative center in upmarket Maitama, in Abuja. She have been lacking for 3 days.
Seven years later, Ben Okpe, another lawyer, used to be killed close to his house in Karu, close to Abuja. In March, 2022, terrorists who hijacked the Abuja-Kaduna teach, killed Farida Sule Mohammed, a tender Abuja legal professional. She used to be 29. Suleiman Zailani, used to be killed in August; Sadiq Gaya in September. At the finish of November, unidentified gunmen in the Federal Capital assassinated senior legal professional, Steven Eke, in the presence of his spouse and son.
Feyitayo Obot used to be killed in her resort room when she travelled to Lagos on skilled trade at the finish of January 2019; just about two months after the killing of Adeshina Adeola, who used to be killed on the outskirts of Abuja in the week of his admission to the Nigerian Bar in November 2018.
The killings and abductions of legal professionals and judges recounted listed below are just a fraction of the tale. Three issues are transparent about them. First, the perpetrators just about at all times escape with it. Second, any society that tolerates a lot of these assaults on its courts, judges, and legal professionals is lawless. Third, the NBA does no longer but have a targeted program for making sure duty for those assaults on legal professionals and judges. That is the very first thing that should alternate.
Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, a legal professional and instructor, will also be reached at email@example.com.
Author: Premium Times