The Nigerian Bar Association has called upon the Federal Government to secure the lives of Nigerian Judges by ensuring that they have adequate security apparatus around them at all times. This call was made in the wake of the kidnap of a Judge of a Federal High Court, Hon Justice Abdu Dogo who was returning to Akure from Abuja.
It was also discovered that Justice Dogo was on the journey without any security escort. In a statement titled KIDNAP OF HONORABLE JUSTICE ABDU DOGO OF THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT OF NIGERIA, the President of the NBA, Mr. Paul Usoro lamented the high rate of security breach in Nigeria and called on the Federal Government to rejig the entire security apparatus in Nigeria.
Read the full statement below:
KIDNAP OF HONORABLE JUSTICE ABDU DOGO OF THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT OF NIGERIA
- The Nigerian Bar Association (“NBA”) condemns in very strong terms the recent kidnap of Honorable Justice Abdu Dogo, a Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Akure Division and demands for His Lordship’s immediate release. The NBA also calls on law enforcement and security agencies not only to secure the immediate release of Dogo J but also to work at immediately apprehending the criminals behind this dastardly act and bringing them to book without fail. For those who may not be seised of the facts, Honorable Justice Abdu Dogo was traveling from Abuja to His Lordship’s station in Akure when he was abducted by criminals with his driver on Tuesday, 22 October 2019 at a border town between Edo and Ondo States. His abductors, we understand, have demanded for N50m ransom for his release. We had hoped that at the time we would be writing this Press Release, His Lordship would be released by his abductors and reunited with his family but, alas, he remains in the criminals’ custody almost three days after his abduction!
- This is one crime that must be condemned in the harshest terms by all of us and hastily unraveled, with the criminals brought to book. Judges are, by definition, the gatekeepers and High Priests of our temple of justice and, by extension, the Rule of Law. Their pronouncements are critical and required for our protection, for the protection, promotion and upholding of the Rule of Law and the dispensation of justice generally. Their pronouncements secure our freedom and liberty. Without them, we degenerate into a state of anarchy. We cannot therefore claim to be a country that lives by and places premium on the Rule of Law when the gatekeepers and High Priests of that sanctum are so flagrantly kidnapped and abducted by common criminals who now have the temerity and audacity to demand for N50m ransom before His Lordship can be released. This is nothing short of the desecration of our fountain and temple of justice.
- The more depressing aspect of this incident is that, the NBA has established that Honorable Justice Abdu Dogo’s kidnap is not an isolated incident of security breach against our judges. Some weeks ago, the residence of the head of one of our Federal Courts was invaded and vandalized by burglars who made away with valuables. We also understand that some of our Judges – including Court of Appeal Justices – do not even have police orderlies! That is how low and bad the security architecture around our judicial officers is and yet, we claim to prize justice and to be a country that places premium on the Rule of Law. In other climes where justice and the Rule of Law are prized, criminal attacks against Judges are considered taboo even by criminals and where they occur, the long arm of the law is deployed to speedily bring the criminals to book. We betray our vaunted esteem for justice and its administration and the Rule of Law when we cannot even protect and secure the men and women who dispense justice in our country.
- It is not too late to reverse the negative and damning perception that is fostered by the afore-specified security breaches and incidents against our judicial officers. For a start, Government and its security and law enforcement apparatchik must secure the immediate and safe release of Honorable Justice Abdu Dogo and ensure that the criminals behind His Lordship’s abduction are met with justice. Beyond that, the entire security architecture around our judicial officers must be immediately rejigged and upscaled in a manner that places premium on their lives and property. It truly makes no sense in the Nigeria of 2019 that a judicial officer of any court is not assigned a security detail as of right and without any delay. There is indeed no reason why the homes of our judges should not be well secured and protected with adequate security cordon. Our Judges, we must remember, are expected to dispense justice without fear or favour. That “fear” includes fear of criminals. We must not allow our Judges to live and operate under the fear of criminals. Such fear pollutes and desecrates our fountain of justice and by extension the Rule of Law.
- On a general note, the NBA calls on governments at all levels to wake up to their responsibilities and stem the general sense of insecurity that pervades the land. To illustrate, our roads are now so notoriously unsafe that no sane person wants to ply them. Almost everyone who can afford to now uses alternative travel modes, mostly air or rail. And yet, the greater majority of our countrymen and women can only afford to travel by road which is generally cheaper than the other modes of transportation. And they are daily exposed to the vicious and hurtful activities of criminals and men of the underworld who are now the lords of our roads. Most of these criminal incidents are not reported and are never resolved. And that has emboldened the criminals to the point that, now, even our Judges are targets and victims of these criminal gangs.
- We have repeatedly spoken on the pervasive state of insecurity in our country and the impression which is not being solidified that our governments and security agencies are overwhelmed and have become totally flat-footed. The situation has got worse and is now extremely dire. We however must not lose hope. The NBA therefore persists in calling on governments at all levels to please save us from these criminal gangs by protecting our lives and property. Without security, the potentials of Nigeria – be it economic, social, political or howsoever labeled – can never be fulfilled and/or realized. Without security we are all endangered and it would only be a matter of time before private armies are formed by groups and individuals for their personal protection. That would be the road to anarchy, and we owe it to ourselves and future generations to pre-empt and prevent such foreboding possibilities.
- The NBA, once again, calls on governments at all levels to please rise up to the security challenges in our land and ensure the security of lives and property generally. In particular, the NBA calls on governments and security agencies to review the security cordon, measures and arrangements around and for our judicial officers and ensure that they are provided with adequate protection and security at all times. For the immediate, we call on the security agencies to secure the speedy, safe and unconditional release of Honorable Justice Abdu Dogo and also bring his abductors to book.
Paul Usoro, SAN
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