THE Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has condemned repeated attacks on lawyers and courts in Imo State.
The NBA reacted to attacks on courts in Imo State in a statement released by its National Publicity Secretary Akorede Lawal on Tuesday, December 20.
“The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has confirmed the report that some yet-to-be-identified arsonists burnt down the High Court of Imo State building in Orlu, Imo State, on Friday, 16th December 2022. In the process, all the Court’s files, exhibits, and records books were completely razed.
“The NBA strongly condemns this crime on the court.
“We cannot build a virile justice system that upholds the rule of law if we continue to destroy the structures upon which justice stands. The NBA is concerned that this suspected arson on the court was premeditated, as eyewitnesses (including a court official who lives close to the court in Orlu) confirmed that the perpetrators started by shooting sporadically to scare away everyone before wreaking havoc on the Court,” the statement said.
Noting that some court staff had been abducted in the course of carrying out their duties, the NBA said the attacks had affected the confidence of residents in the government and the judiciary.
“If the courts which are ‘Houses of Justice’ are not safe, no citizen will consider his or her life and properties to be safe. Equally, these attacks will cause unimaginable and inordinate delay in the administration of justice and impact negatively on the livelihoods of our members in Imo State, many of whom are litigators,” the NBA observed.
Calling on the state government to protect the judiciary and its officers, the association said it was making efforts to apprehend the culprits and bring them to justice. It also urged citizens to be vigilant and ensure that public properties are not destroyed.
“The NBA shall firmly resist the attempt to return the legal profession to the dark days where lawyers conducted their professional affairs in fear. Citizens need to be aware that lawyers are not their enemies or opponents. Lawyers only aid the administration of justice, and the law courts still remain the lawful and civil forum of resolving disputes,” the statement added.
Members of the NBA were urged to be security conscious while carrying out their activities.
The ICIR reported that a magistrate’s court in Owerri, Imo State, was razed during an attack on December 18.
About 24 hours earlier, a high court in the Orlu area of Imo state was burnt during an attack.