Lawyers in Imo State will today, 6th February, 2023, begin a three-day boycott of courtroom activities to register their anger over the killing of the President of Ejemekwuru Customary Court, Nnaemeka Ugboma, in Oguta Local Government Area of the state.
About five gunmen on Thursday invaded the customary court, dragged the jurist out while he was presiding over a session and shot him dead.
The killing sparked public outcry leading to lawyers in the state calling on the police to arrest and persecute the suspects.
The five branches of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in the state, in a joint statement yesterday, called for, among others, the provision of security personnel in all courts in the state.
The statement signed by D. U. Alinnor for Owerri Branch. B. A. Munonye for Orlu Branch. Ambrose Ugbala for Mbaise Branch, E. A. Ochionu for Okigwe Branch and Richard Anyanwu for Mbano/Etiti branch, decried the constant attacks on judicial officers and facilities in the state.
It reads: “The branches of the Nigerian Bar Association in Imo State (Imo Bar) deplores the cold-blooded murder of a judicial officer, His Worship Nnaemeka Ugboma, who was shot point blank in court by yet-to-be-identified gunmen on the 2nd of February, 2023.
On receipt of the news, the Owerri branch of the Nigerian Bar Association promptly engaged lawyers within the affected jurisdiction as well as staff of the affected court, who confirmed the incident. We also convened an emergency meeting and further contacted the heads of the judiciary particularly the Chief Judge of Imo State and the President of the Customary Court of Appeal Imo State.
“The Commissioner of Police Imo State has also received a request from us for an immediate and thorough investigation into the circumstances leading to the unfortunate incident and to ensure that the culprits are apprehended and made to face the full weight of the law.
“The Imo Bar notes with deep concern that the attacks on judicial institutions have become a disturbing trend in Imo State and has taken an unfortunate turn by the murder of Ugboma.
“This dastardly act is highly condemnable as it desecrates the temple of justice and undermines the confidence of the citizens in the judiciary as the last hope of the common man.
“The Bar therefore calls on the Imo State Government to provide, with immediate effect, security in and around all the courts in Imo State, which have remained porous despite the sensitive role they play in the society.
“The Imo Bar, in consonance with the national body of the NBA, ably led by Y.C. Maikyau, OON, SAN, firmly resists the attempt to undermine the judiciary and the legal profession, and instill fear in the conduct of judicial proceedings. Also, citizens need to be aware that judicial officers and lawyers are not their enemies or opponents, they only aid in the administration of justice.
“In the circumstance, the members of the NBA in Imo State have resolved to boycott all courts in Imo State starting from Monday 6th February 2023 to Wednesday 8th February 2023, in other to register their displeasure with the current state of affairs.
“Until the members of the Bar in Imo State are sufficiently assured of the safety of the judiciary, the Bar and the litigants as requested, we shall continue to review the situation and to take further necessary actions.”