It appears the trend for disregard by arms bearing law enforcement agents for the honour attached to persons, privileges, offices and institutions has taken to epidemic levels as report reaching CASER is that a lawyer named Bernard Oyabevwe has been severely beaten up by some policemen attached to ‘A’ Division in Warri, Delta State.
According to an eyewitness report, the lawyer was representing his client today, June 5th at the Magistrate’s Court 1, Warri in Delta State when the said client was whisked away by EFCC, to the ‘A’ Division Police Station. The lawyer immediately went to the station but he was prevented from gaining entry into the station. He reminded the police at the gate that there is a court order preventing the police from arresting his client. At that point, the police pounced on the lawyer using their rifle butts to hit him and beat him seriously. They dragged him around on the floor before he was detained him for some hours and thereafter charge him before the Magistrate’s Court in Warri for assaulting a police officer. The Magistrate immediately granted bail to the lawyer for self recognition.
Frank Tietie, Executive Director of CASER notes that there is a growing recent disregard by law enforment agents across the country for honour and privileges attached to certain persons, positions and privileges. When it is said that the law is no respecter of persons, it simply means the law is impartial. It does not mean, any body bearing the force of arms has the liberty to beat up any body at the slightest provocation. It is very unlikely that a lawyer would go to a police station and attempt to beat up a policeman to the point of tearing up the officer’s uniform as claimed by the police in the charge sheet filed at the court. This is simply a reflection of the new trend of disregard for court judgments and punitive harrasments of law abiding citizens simply because they hold a different view or considered as opposition. It is common knowledge in Nigeria that ordinary citizens’ fundamental rights are not always respected by law enforcement agents. But the new trend started with harrasment of judges before it moved on to journalists ans members of the National Assembly. Now, lawyers have joined the list
Tietie urges the Warri Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association to call for a thorough investigation of the incident. He has promised to report the incident to the National Human Rights Commission and the Police Service Commission in order to check this strange trend of disregard for the fundamental huan rights of both ordinanry Nigerians and those with dissenting stance against the government.
Fear and intimidation are rising in Nigeria at the moment.