Oluyinka Gbadamosi shared this in one of the lawyers groups on facebook.
Christian Tom, Esq offered pro-bono service to secure the release of a widow arrested with her son by the police after she had a fight on the farm with another woman.
Counsel visited the Police Division at Ikot Edibon in Nsit Ubium Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State on 5th January, 2023.
The IPO, Inspector Ekom who was not available at the station asked counsel to wait for her. He left the station by 10:30pm when it was clear that the IPO wouldn’t show up.
He returned the next day to meet with the IPO, but the IPO was still unavailable and did not answer calls to her phone line.
Counsel approached the DPO who referred him to the DCO, who then referred him to Inspector Okin Esu.
Inspector Okin Esu was angry with the sureties who accompanied the lawyer, fuming to know why the family had to bring in a lawyer.
He eventually demanded for the sum of Forty Thousand Naira as bail fee to cover the two people in detention.
Counsel added his voice to let the officer know that the widow is a peasant who is already living from hand to mouth and cannot afford more than the Eight Thousand Naira offered by the sureties.
Inspector Okin Esu who was already irritated by the presence of the lawyer stayed adamant.
Counsel moved to inform the DPO of the officer’s insistence on Forty Thousand Naira bail fees.
At this point, Inspector Okin Esu ordered Christian Tom, Esq not to dare enter the DPO’s office or face dire consequences.
Counsel was unperturbed by the threats. After all, the police station is a public space.
Suddenly, Inspector Okin Esu landed slaps and blows on counsel same way he had minutes ago beaten the sureties that came with counsel when one of them tried to respond to the officer’s wrong accusations.
He invited other officers present to join in rough-handling the counsel. He seized his phones and personal effects and detained him for 5 hours.
At about 6pm, counsel and his clients were bundled to State Police Headquarters in Uyo (about 30 to 40 minutes drive) with a direction that they be further detained.
Luckily, the IPO at the Headquarters after listening to Inspector Okin Esu and Christian Tom, Esq refused to further detain counsel, but instead granted him and his clients administrative bail at about 10:20pm.
This is the state of legal practice in Nigeria. This is the crass attitude of some security officers at the sight of lawyers merely doing their lawyering jobs.
If it can happen to one, who says it cannot happen to any other person?
Lawyers now seem to be endangered species just for being lawyers.
Mr. President and his team have more States to visit if visits alone would save lawyers.