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Blame game as thugs beat up Rivers NBA protesters

Lawyers’ action an act of incivility -Justice Gumel

They should have listened to the judge to backpedal -Tonye Cole

We were peaceful in protest -Brutalised NBA chairman

Attackers were political thugs -Rivers APC spokesman

By Egufe Yafugborhi & Davies Iheamnachor

THE ruthless beating, yesterday, of Sylvester Adaka, chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Port Harcourt branch along with other colleagues during an Appeal Court session in the Rivers state capital has provoked a blame game among stakeholders.

A man holds a sign as protesters assemble outside the secretariat of the Nigerian Bar Association during a protest in Abuja over the suspension of Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) in Abuja on January 28, 2019. – Nigeria’s government has denied suggestions that the suspension of the country’s top judge on corruption charges was linked to next month’s election. President Muhammadu Buhari replaced Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen on January 25, 2019, sparking claims he had breached the constitution and was trying to manipulate the judiciary. (Photo AFP)

Adaka and colleagues in continuation of the nationwide NBA protest over federal government’s face off with Justice Walter Onnoghen has invaded the Appeal Court to disrupt a sitting in progress when irate youths pounced on them in chaos.

Justice A A Gumel of the Appeal Court said the lawyers’ acted in incivility as Tonye Cole, embattled Rivers All Progressives Congress, APC, flag bearer whose appeal against a High Court judgement was among cases being heard at the spur of the moment said the court disruption by the lawyers as unfortunate.

Assaulted Adaka in his reactions said they were peaceful in process and don’t deserved the attack meted to them just as Spokesman to a faction of Rivers state APC, Chris Finebone labeled the attackers as thugs sponsored by a rival political party.

Justice Gumel said, “Gumel said: “You have seen people bash into our proceeding. This is incivility. We will not be intimidated. We are here to do a solemn job and we will give justice. The bar is entitled to respect the bench and the bench should carry the bar along.

“If the ethical behaviours handed to us by our fathers are maintained we will make headway. It is about all the courts and administration of justice and not just the Appeal Court in Rivers State.”

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Also, Justice Isaiah Akeju, another member of the appeal panel advised that “It is not in their (protesting lawyers’) best interest to disrupt the sitting of the bench. We are not aware of the protest because they did not inform us. What stops them from doing a small notice to us on the issue?”

Tonye Cole said, “I was there and I think it is very unfortunate to see the kind of disruption. The judge started off by saying he would just record the matter and adjourn everything till another day, but let them just records the process.

“That was an honourable thing to do and I think they should have allowed that to happen. The judge essentially said the lawyers were ministers of justice and that they should not desecrate the court as the temple.”

Adaka, the Port Harcourt NBA boss who was left with a swollen, bloodied face said, “I peacefully addressed the justices of the court of appeal and appealed to them to rise so we can continue our peaceful boycott of court. I also appealed to the lawyers in the court to leave the court premises.

“While we were there in court, a couple of thugs in the court premises attacked the lawyers there, the thugs zeroed in on me and and a couple of lawyers. If not for the intervention of my colleagues around, I don’t know what would have happened.

“The court was sitting and continued sitting even after the attack on us and we felt that in an atmosphere that was charged like that, the court should have at least reasoned to allow tempers cool.”

Chris Finebone, Publicity Secretary of the Ojukaye Flag Amachree faction of Rivers APC, accused two lawyers of leading thugs “the thugs to assault innocent witnesses in the Appeal Court of Justice Ali Gumel in Port Harcourt today” at the behest of a rival political party.

He said, “We know that the main purpose of the assault was to cause an indefinite postponement of the hearing of APC matters by the Appeal Court with a view to scuttling APC presence on INEC ballot for the forthcoming elections.”


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