The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Orlu Branch, Imo State, had protested what it called the brute force of the Nigerian Police Force and arbitrary arrest of its members. The Bar, therefore, condemned the bizarre wielding of brute Force by the Police against citizens.
The NBA Orlu Branch protested that it is ridiculous that a citizen would be arrested and detained because his phone number is alleged to be receiving calls from a suspect.
“It is more ridiculous that the identity of the suspect is yet to be revealed to the citizen being arrested by the police, so as to give him the choice of possibly assisting the police to track down the suspect,” the NBA declared in a statement by the Public Relations Officer (PRO), NBA Orlu Branch, B. I. Onyekwere Esq. on the directive of the CLC Agbordike-led Executive of NBA Orlu Branch.
The Public Relations Officer (PRO), NBA Orlu Branch, B. I. Onyekwere Esq. in the statement, argued that “it becomes all the more comically ridiculous that whatever technology the Police used to identify numbers that communicated with the suspect’s phone and their location, could not identify the location of that suspect’s phone” to apprehend him.
The PRO declared that the NBA Orlu remains a Professional Organization with Law abiding members, and, therefore, called on the Police to release its members, arguing that there is no justifiable reason for their arrest and continued detention.
The Public Relations Officer (PRO), NBA Orlu Branch, B. I. Onyekwere Esq. narrated that policemen claiming to be members of the IRT answerable only to the IGP, invaded three Law firms in Orlu on Wednesday, April 14, and arrested the head of Chambers of the Law firms, as well as all Lawyers of the Firms.
According to the PRO, on arrival at the Police station, the only explanation they were given were:
That the Police Team has been closely monitoring the phone line of a suspect, That the phone numbers of the 3 Heads of the affected Law firms were regularly called by the suspect’s phone line
That the Lawyers are thus believed to have links with the Suspect, and are being detained pending the apprehension of the suspect.
The PRO protested that the identity of the suspect, or the offence he is suspected to have committed were not disclosed.
The Chairman of the Orlu Branch of the NBA was said to have visited the police station to inquire of the detained Lawyers, as well as possibly secure their release, but to his surprise he was also detained until about 2pm on April 14 but was later released with the Lawyers working with the affected Law firms, whole holding back the heads of the chambers.
The PRO decried that attempts to get the three Heads of Chambers released proved abortive.
The Police were said to have invited the Chairman of Orlu MBA branch at about 4pm, to come and identify the detained Lawyers, but he found it ridiculous how he would need to identify the same Lawyers he had earlier come for their release, and was detained alongside them.
The Orlu NBA Branch PRO, noted that as a Law abiding citizen, the branch chairman, however, drove back with a few other Lawyers from Orlu to the Police Headquarters in Owerri, and on arrival at 5pm, the Policemen at the gate refused them entry. When the Lawyers, led by their Chairman, sought audience with the Policemen at the gate, the officers cocked their rifles, threatened to shoot the lawyers and brand them terrorists. Hence, the NBA Orlu Chairman and his team drove back to Orlu.
While the 3 Heads of the Law firms affected were being detained by the Police, their phones were seized from them. Yet, there were no information on the identity of the suspect who was supposedly at large, neither were they information on the crime being investigated.
The NBA, therefore, argued that “it suffices to note that every citizen (including a convict who is no longer presumed innocent) is entitled to the services of a Legal Practitioner at least to prosecute his appeal. Hence, it is antithetical to every sense of justice to arrest and detain a Lawyer for allegedly communicating with a person who is still a suspect of a yet to be disclosed Crime.”