BY Innocent Anaba, Godwin Oritse, JIMITOTA ONOYUME, Abdulwahab Abdulah, JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU & CHRIS OCHAYI
LAGOS—The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, yesterday, gave the Federal Government, through the National Security Adviser and the Inspector General of Police, a 30-day ultimatum to thoroughly investigate the bombing of the Rivers State High Court premises in Ahoada and Okehi.
Similarly, former President of the association, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, supported the position of the NBA, saying that “it is high time the issue of threat and terrorism is controlled and curbed. I fully endorse the decision of the NBA.”
Prof Itse Sagay, SAN, on his part, said: “It is obvious that the people behind this are not just desperate, but they are also fascists, who have no respect for human lives and due process.
They want to intimidate the people, their political opposition turn them to onlookers, so that they can do whatever they want with our lives. They have gone further to also intimidate the judiciary, the third arm of government. For me, it is the height of irresponsibility. So, let them look for them (perpetrators) so that they can face justice.”
Another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Mike Ozekhome also threw his weight behind the decision of NBA.
He expressed concern over the fact that politics has assumed a dangerous and murderous dimension in the country, culminating in the bombing of a court.
Also, United Progressive Party, UPP and Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM, faulted the bombing of the courts in Rivers State.
On his part, Senator Magnus Abe, representing Rivers South East senatorial district, described the security situation in the state as near anarchy.
Issuing the ultimatum through a statement signed by its President, Mr Okey Wali, SAN, the NBA said: “We condemn these acts of brigandage and view them not only as sacrilegious, but also as a desecration of the temple of justice. On no account, will we ever, idly stand by and watch these acts of violence and impunity to our courts, which are tantamount to an affront to the rule of law and threat to our democracy.
“This underscores the need for government to take the security of lives and property more seriously. The lackadaisical attitude accorded to the security of our courts nationwide, is now brought to the fore. The need to secure the premises of the hallowed courts of justice across the nation should be taken more seriously.”
NBA called on the National Security Adviser and the Inspector General of Police to employ all security apparatuses at their disposal, to unearth the culprits and bring them to Justice, adding “we will not and cannot, be satisfied with the usual mantra of, ‘the Police investigation is continuing.’ We demand an immediate and thorough investigation and expect a report, even if, interim, within 30 days of the date of the incidents. Attacks on our courts will not be swept under the carpet.”
It’s dangerous —Ozekhome
Ozekhome said: “My worry is that politics in Nigeria is now assuming a dangerous and murderous dimension as never before seen in Nigeria.
“And to carry this politicking to the secred chambers of the court of law is introducing a totally novel dimension calculated to intimidate the judiciary and its personnel. He added that if the matter was treated with kid gloves, Nigeria may never recover from such a macabre of dance of death.
He called on the Police to immediately swing into action and unearth the perpetrators of the heinous crime against Nigeria. “I support the NBA in its decision of issuing an ultimatum to the relevant security authorities to arrest the perpetrators and prosecute them.”
Meanwhile, the Godspower Ake faction of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Rivers State has also condemned the fire incident at the state High Court in Okehi on Monday, saying that the development would, however, not affect the ruling of an Appeal Court in Abuja on the authentic leadership of the party in the state by January 15.
Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr George Nwogba, in a statement accused the Felix Obuah faction of the party of being behind the incident, adding that they would have disrupted the ongoing court processes if they had set fire on documents at the Court of Appeal.
PDM in Rivers State on its part, described the development as a threat to democracy. The movement in a statement by its state Chairman, Mr George Ngbor, warned the political class in the state not to plunge the state into crisis.
He said: “The current crisis rocking the state if not checked is capable of snowballing into an undesirable situation for indigenes and residents of the state. Politicians in the state should shun politics of bitterness.”
He added that it was not true that its members in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state had defected to the All Progressives Congress, APC, maintaining that they were intact.
United Progressive Party, UPP on its part, said that the bombing was judicial terrorism, arson and reckless action aimed at intimidating judicial officers in Nigeria.
Condemning the attack by yet to be identified persons in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Ogbuche Dike, the party charged security agents to act quickly to meet expectation of Nigerians as security of lives and property were the primary purpose of government.
The party said the judiciary was the last hope of all aggrieved people, adding that any attempt to harass, subdue and influence esteemed Justices of the court to pervert justice shall be resisted by all lovers of democracy, due process and rule of law.
He said: “It is outrageous that some disgruntled elements should bomb the Rivers State High Court in Ahoada East Local Government Area, vandalise and set ablaze files and vital documents for adjudication at the state High Court Okehi, in Etche Local Government Area. It is absurd that these primitive actions could be taken in Nigeria at 100 years of existence.
“It is unfortunate that our beloved country is gradually sliding into a state of lawlessness fuelled by insurgency, militancy, kidnapping, armed robbery and terrorism. Security agents should wake up and live up to expectation as security of lives and property is the primary purpose of government.
“The perpetrators of the recent Rivers State courts bombings should be fished out and punished in accordance with the laws of the land to serve as a deterrent to others who might contemplate such heinous crimes,” the party added.
The Ake-led PDP in Rivers State, continuing, said: “Afraid that justice would soon slap them in the face over their treacherous, deceitful and false claims to the offices of the Chairman and Secretary of PDP in Rivers State, the other faction resorted to their latest option just to hold on to power no matter how illegitimate. We would prefer they allowed the Appeal Court decide their fate rather than engage in self-help of this magnitude, obviously couched in shame and opprobrium.
Near anarchy in Rivers — Abe
On his part, Senator Magnus Abe, representing Rivers South East senatorial district, described the security situation in the state as near anarchy and a total disobedience of the constitution of the country.
He noted with dismay that the foundation of ensuring peace in the state was being flagrantly abused by the police, contrary to the constitutional provision that makes the governor the Chief Security Officer where the state Commissioner of Police takes lawful directives from the governor.
“What is happening in the state is that some people are undermining the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The constitution clearly provides that the governor shall be the Chief Security Officer of a state and that the Commissioner of Police should take lawful directives from the governor.
“Once you destroy that foundation for the security of a state, you have nothing but near anarchy and that is what we are now witnessing in River State,” he said.