By Sandra Umeh
Some members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on Monday expressed worry at the killing of their colleagues across the country.
They described it as desecration of the temple of justice.
The lawyers told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the killings had become too many.
NAN reports that the Chairman of a Customary Court in Oguta Local Government area of Imo, Mr Nnaemeka Ugboma, was on Feb. 3 reportedly shot dead by yet-to-be identified gunmen at the court’s premises.
Before Ugboma’s murder, several lawyers had been attacked and murdered in Imo and some other parts of the country.
NAN reports that on Dec. 25, 2022, a pregnant female lawyer, Mrs Omobolanle Raheem, was shot dead in Lagos State.
Raheem was allegedly murdered by a police officer in Ajah while she was returning from a Christmas outing with her family.
In November 2022, Steven Eke was killed by unidentified gunmen in the Federal Capital assassinated senior lawyer, in the presence of his wife and son.
The Chairman of NBA, Lagos Branch, Mr Ikechukwu Uwanna, told NAN that every citizen possessed the right to life.
“The killing of lawyers across the country does not portend well for the NBA neither is it a good omen for the legal profession nor Nigeria.
“It is sad, dehumanising, barbaric and uncalled for, for any person to be killed anywhere in Nigeria.
“Attacks on lawyers are something we cannot leave like that, it is a situation we must oppose and condemn in its entirety.
“We need to oppose and condemn it clearly, whether it is in Ejemekuru where a chairman of a customary court was killed, or in Lagos where a lawyer was killed or in Sokoto where a lawyer was killed, or in Calabar where a judge was killed.
“We need to all stand up and condemn this; it is our humanity that is at stake.
“We need to stand up and defend our humanity and ensure that everyone is able to respect life which none of us is able to provide,” he said.
A former Chairman of NBA, Jos Branch, Mr Yakubu Bawa, told NAN that the trend portended a bad omen for the nation.
“It appears that lawyers have become an endangered specie,’’ he said.
According to him, the common man will be wondering what will be his lot if lawyers who can fight for their rights can be attacked and killed.
“I think that this is the right time to adopt a radical approach to addressing this issue. It is not confrontational or illegal but an effective measure.
“There is, therefore, a need for the NBA president to convene a meeting where these issues will be discussed.
“As lawyers, we must also be vigilant in terms of security, and take care of ourselves. It is sad that we have become an endangered specie.
“We must all put our hands on deck to deal with this plague,” he said.
The Chairman of NBA, Ota Branch, Mr Wale Adegoke, also regretted murder of some lawyers in recent times, saying that it could weaken the judicial institution.
“Regretfully, the temple of justice is being desecrated by the blood of the priests/ministers.
“Consequently, by the show of brute force on her personnel, the judicial institution is being weakened.
“We cannot afford this gory state of affairs in the interest of nation building and our collective wellbeing,’’ he said.
He called on state governors to beef up security in all court facilities.
“All visitors to these facilities should be subjected to searches for enhanced security for our judicial officers and legal practitioners,” he urged.
Adegoke also advocated collaboration and effective networking among security agencies in each state to upscale intelligence gathering on judicial facilities.
A constitutional lawyer, Mr Spurgeon Ataene, said that attacks on lawyers and judges had become a huge cause for concern.
“All over the world, we are held responsible for some malfeasance and misfeasance.
“It is ludicrous to see us, lawyers, bearing the brunt of society’s undoing.
“There was the belief in the ancient times that, in order to have a quiet society, you first have to do away with lawyers.
“As absurd as that saying is, some members of society actually see lawyers as their problems rather than those who resolve crisis.
“I, therefore, advocate establishment of lawyers and judicial officers’ safety corps.
“I am of the opinion that if established through legislation, every law firm and judicial officer or lawyer will operate under the radar of the sophisticated security system to ensure their safety,” he said
Ataene urged NBA branches to emphasise security and welfare of their members at all times. (NAN)
Edited y Ijeoma Popoola