By Peter Okolie
Members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Imo, on Tuesday, staged a peaceful protest following the incessant attacks, killings and kidnapping by gunmen in the state.
Their grievance was further heightened with the killing of Nnaemeka Ugboma, the Chairman, Customary Court, Ejemekwuru, in Oguta Local Government Area, on Feb. 2 within the court premises while presiding over a matter.
The group also decried the gruesome murder of the Sole Administrator of Ideato North Local Government Area of the state, Chief Chris Ohizu, among other incidents.
The lawyers had marched with placards from their Owerri bar center to the Police Headquarters near the Government House, Owerri.
Some of their placards read “Violent attacks on Imo citizens must end now!! #saveourland#”, “Murder in the court, stain on justice” and “We demand justice for the slain customary court chairman #JusticeforUgboma,” among others.
A nine-point communique read by the Chairman, NBA Owerri branch, Mr Damian Alinnor, shortly before the protest, expressed concern that the insecurity situation in the state had assumed a worrisome state.
“We hereby call on all manner of persons engaging in violence and killings in the state to ceases with immediate effect as the lives of Imo citizens are not worth losing for any reason whatsoever.
“Imo state must not be reduced to a theatre of war for any reason, known or unknown.
“Security agencies should be more tactful in their security approach and be more proactive in the safeguard of the lives and properties on Imo citizens,” he appealed.
Alinnor further called for urgent beefing up of security around the courts, including building perimeter fence as well as devise a roundtable dialogue between government and non-state actors to address the perceived agitations.
He urged the government to take more proactive actions to safeguard the lives of Imo citizens, especially the members of the bar and the bench.
According to Allinor, until members of the bar in Imo are sufficiently assured of the safety of the Judiciary, the bar and litigants as well, it may advisedly recommend that members desist from attending courts.
“In the circumstance, the members of the bar in Imo have resolved to boycott all courts from Monday, Feb. 6, to Wednesday, Feb. 8, and call on the relevant authorities to make clear assurances of safety of the Judiciary, the bar and litigants before court resumes,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the communique was signed by the five chairmen of Owerri, Orlu, Mbaise, Okigwe and Mbano/Etiti NBA branches in the state.
The NBA members also observed a one-minute silence in honour of late Ugboma and others, who have lost their lives to insecurity in the state.
However, neither the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Mohammed Barde, nor any other senior police official attended to the protesters as at the time of report.
Also, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP Henry Okoye, who picked a call put across to him, however, said he was in a meeting.
Okoye did not respond to a text message soliciting his reaction on the matter. (NAN)