Imo lawyers boycott court sittings, want IG to sack CP, DPO
Hundreds of lawyers who are members of the Owerri branch of the Nigeria Bar Association on Monday boycotted court sittings across the state and staged a protest against the assault on the chief magistrate in charge of Umuneke Ngor Magistrate’s Court, Ngozi Onyenemezu, and two lawyers, Emma Eke and Chukwuemeka Anyanwu.
The lawyers, who later addressed journalists in front of the Owerri High Court, alleged that the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Ngor Okpala Police Division, I.G. Moses, and his officers invaded Umuneke Ngor Magistrate’s Court and beat up the magistrate and the two lawyers for dismissing a case against three robbery suspects on July 19.
The magistrate was said to have cited “defective charges” as the reason behind her action.
The Owerri NBA branch Chairman, Damian Nosike, said lawyers embarked on the protest to condemn the “police desecration of the judiciary.”
Nosike said the policemen, who beat up the magistrate, also verbally assaulted her “by calling her a prostitute.”
The chairman said, “We are protesting against police brutality on two of our members on July 19 at the Umuneke Ngor Magistrate’s Court. We are also protesting against the desecration of the judiciary by the police that assaulted a female magistrate.
“They equally called her a prostitute. The female magistrate ran into her chamber and it took the intervention of the Area Commander to save the magistrate from the DPO and his men.
“We went to the police command headquarters to see the CP, but we waited for three hours without being allowed to see him. We left by 10pm.
“We are calling on the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to immediately redeploy the Commissioner of Police in Imo State and also dismiss the DPO and his men.
“We will continue to protest until our request is granted; we will boycott court sittings in Imo State for three days. We will officially petition the IGP, the Police Service Commission, human rights organisations and the Attorney General of the Federation, demanding that the Imo State CP be sacked and the DPO and his men be dismissed and prosecuted.”
Nosike said the time had come for the police to start respecting the rights of the citizenry.
He said, “If a magistrate and two lawyers could be so humiliated and assaulted, where lies the hope of the common man? We will not accept it.
“NBA will be the last organisation to condone crime. The magistrate discharged the matter for being defective. And the only crime the two lawyers committed was that they were defence counsel to the accused.”
But the police spokesperson in the state, Andrew Enwerem, warned the lawyers not to hide under any association to incite the members of the public against the police.
Enwerem said, “The matter is already in court and the two lawyers have been granted bail. The lawyers should not hide under any association to incite the members of the public against the police.
The matter is already sub judice and going to the social media, newspapers, radio and embarking on a protest march have exposed their legal ignorance and defects.
“The protest by the lawyers showed that they don’t believe in the judiciary, which they are all members. They should allow the court to handle the matter to a logical conclusion.” Punch