Press Release on the Assault and Intimidation of Young Lawyers By the Police
Following the complaint by Maduabuchi O. Idam, Esq., our distinguished colleague and Legal Adviser on Saturday 3rd August 2019, the Young Lawyers Forum of Nigeria has been following up with the matter and wish to make our position known as follows:
1. Benson Aigbojie Esq. whose client was in detention went to the Kabusa Police Station Abuja accompanied by Maduabuchi O. Idam to know what offences were alleged to have been committed by his client and possibly seek for his bail.
2. Upon getting there and introducing themselves as lawyers and merely demanding to see the client, the IPO asked them to step aside and ordered them to immediately leave the police station.
3. While our colleagues were still in shock as to why the police will order them out of the station, the IPO in a bid to forcefully kick them out, immediately pushed Benson Aigbojie Esq. to the ground and while he was still trying to gain his stamina he fell down and sustained injuries on his hand and body.
4. Benson Aigbojie who was pushed down in such distasteful manner as a Legal Practitioner immediately asked the police officer to apologize to him for such act or he will ensure that he takes the matter up and the Police disciplinary authority takes an action on the officer.
5. Before he could finish his demand all hell was let loose as the officer descended on him with anger this time accompanied by other police officers who told him that before he carries out his threat of disciplinary action he will make sure he doesn’t live to do so.
6. Thereafter he was beaten severally with his clothes torn and kicked on the ground before he was pushed inside the cell and locked up.
7. Maduabuchi Idam in a bid to inquire why his learned friend was treated in such manner was not spared as they turned to him, slapped him and struggled to also arrest him until an officer ordered them to push him outside. He was finally pushed outside the police station where he took shelter and sent out an SOS message to the legal circle for everyone to know what happened and see how we have gone so low in this country.
8. The Unity Bar promptly sent in delegates immediately led by Chidi Ezenwafor (Secretary) who came to the Kabusa Police Station in response to the distress call by a learned colleague.
9. However, it is regrettable to note that the Unity Bar Secretary did not reach out to Maduabuchi Idam who made the distress call but rather went into the Police station and listened to the DPO who in defending their wrong doing changed the narrative, cooked up a story and sold it to the Secretary who bought it hook line and sinker and went to the press to post immediately.
10. This was done without hearing from the two young lawyers in distress.
11. The position taken by the Secretary of Unity Bar with all due respect is false, hasty and does not represent the true position of what happened.
12. This is a clear case of police brutality, intimidation, molestation against a lawyer who went to see a client in detention.
13. The report from Unity Bar Secretary should be retracted as same is hasty and one sided.
14. No effort was made to reach out to Maduabuchi Idam who raised the alarm at the time of his intervention.
15. The Complaint wherein it was alleged that Benson Aigbojie was mentioned was never sighted by the Secretary before such hasty conclusion.
16. He only listened to the DPO who told a narrow story to favour the police who have been under immense pressure as the DPO received several calls from the FCT Police Commissioner, Police Public Relations Officer Force Headquarters and other senior officers to ascertain the authenticity of the news that was widely spread.
17. While all these were going on, the Police immediately bundled Benson Aigbojie along with his client and took them to Lagos in other to cover up the lies and allegations against our learned colleague Benson Aigbojie Esq.
18. It was the intervention of the NBA Bwari Branch Chairman in the person of Mr. Clement Chukwuemeka (Servant 1) that made the DPO to admit his wrongdoing and apologize to Maduabuchi Idam.
19. The apology was witnessed by Mr. Folarin Aluko and Mr. Wisdom Elum of the Unity Bar for slapping, brutalising and ridiculing our colleague.
20. It is worthy to note also that immediately after the DPO’s apology, Mr. Benson’s car was released to Maduabuchi Idam.
21. The DPO also requested for the phone number of Maduabuchi Idam for reasons unknown to us.
22. We want to believe whatever the reason, is not to further intimidate or harrass our colleague.
23. We are by this medium appealing to the Police that nothing should happen to Maduabuchi Idam Esq and Benson Aigbojie Esq.
24. We hereby urge the NBA National to wade into this matter and quickly take a stand to ensure that cases like this one where today Benson Aigbojie Esq and Maduabuchi Idam Esq are the victims are prevented as tomorrow it may be somebody else, hence it is sacrosanct and of utmost importance that POLICE BRUTALITY ON YOUNG LAWYERS be seriously discussed and solutions proffered at the upcoming NBA-AGC 2019.
25. We have carefully examined the true facts of this matter and have come to a conclusion that it is a clear case of police brutality, arbitrary/reckless abuse of power by the Kabusa Police Officers, with a deliberate intention to intimidate and harass young lawyers which should not continue. In recent times it has happened in Port Harcourt, Onitsha and Lagos and if this ugly trend is not nipped in the bud, lawyers may no longer be able to represent their clients.
26. Also it is important to point out that assuming but without conceding that Mr Benson is guilty of any offence as initially alleged, is the police meant to brutalise and tear the cloth of a suspect when investigating matters?
And also having labelled him as a kingpin in the alleged offence and thereafter releasing his vehicle to our colleague, this does not add up. These and many more are burning questions that scream for answers.
27. Finally we wish to strongly condemn the actions of the Nigerian Police officers in the way they maltreated our colleagues and urge the NBA National to have a sit down with the Inspector General of Police with the message being that enough is enough on the Police brutality against young lawyers, we have to restore sanity and dignity in our Criminal Justice system, and right now will be a perfect time to put things right, and we sincerely hope that our recommendation in Paragraph 24 above is given serious consideration.
28. We immensely thank the NBA Ikorodu Branch Chairman Mr. Bayo Akinlade and other key players for being proactive and ensuring that Mr Benson Aigbojie is released today and also an air ticket booked for his return to Abuja.
May wise counsel always prevail.
George Basil C. Okwenna, Esq.
Young Lawyers Forum of Nigeria
Dated this Monday 5th day of August 2019.
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