Lawyers’ Arrest and Detention: A Call-to-Action by Hon Ehiogie West Idahosa
Sequel to the arrest and detention of two Abuja-based lawyers, David Amaefula and Pius Udo-Inyan2g both of the law firm of Messrs Rickey Tarfa & Co by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad [SARS] office— Hon Ehiogie West Idahosa has called on bar leaders at National and state levels to brace up and tackle the spate of humiliating treatments, abuses meted out to legal practitioners by various law enforcement agencies in Nigeria.
Idahosa talked tough citing examples of former NBA leaders such as Alao Aka Bashorun and Thompson Onimigbo Okpoko whose revolutionary stance would have curbed these inequities.
In addition, he outlined remedial steps that the professional body can take to achieve the desired immediate and long-term goals.
“With the greatest respect, I put the blame for the frequent humiliation of lawyers squarely on the door steps of the leadership of the Bar at the local and national levels.
This is a good opportunity to fight back.
First, the Unity Bar should do a powerfully worded protest to the President of the Federal Republic, Inspector-General of Police, Commisioner of Police for Federal Capital Territory , chairman of the public petitions committee of both the Senate and House of Reps against these harassments and particularly this latest one.
Second, a powerful protest letter be written against the Magistrate to the Chief Judge of the FCT and well publicized.
Third, a press briefing should take place forthwith to publicly condemn the slide to anarchy of this democracy using these developments as instances.
Fourth, legal action be commenced against the police for appropriate Declaratory Orders and Damages for the violation of human rights, false imprisonment and subsequently for malicious prosecution.
Fifth, the NBA national Exco be informed about these developments and proposed line of action quickly. The sixth, is to commend you all for putting up a legal team to defend these innocent professionals.
Seventh, never again should we allow these infractions without a massive fight back with the law, public opinion, designated official channels and if necessary, international agencies.
I invoke the spirit of the late Bar leader, Alao Aka Bashorun, protector and defender of the Bar. This would never have happened in his time. I salute Thompson Onimigbo Okpoko, SAN, under him this will not happen.
Today, we are on our own. Gentlemen, you have a chance now to choose a defender of the safety, autonomy and efficacy of the Bar, not an accolade seeking, meek and complacent anything-goes- prototype-leader.
Forget about sentiments.
Whichever zone is scheduled to produce a leader, look deeply but look calmly. You would see in the faces and history of the aspirants the road that you should take.
Gentlemen of the Bar, this is our farm and our professional life. Do not let it die.
Aluta Continua! Victoria Ascerta!”