October 4, 2023

Lawyers in Imo State have said that they will on Monday begin a three-day boycott following the killing of the magistrate in charge of Ejemekwuru Customary Court in the Oguta Local Government Area of the state.

Gunmen had on Thursday invaded the court and shot dead the magistrate identified as Nnaemeka Ugboma.

Reacting to the development, the five branches of the Nigerian Bar Association in the state in a statement disclosed that they were staying out of the courts for three days as measure to tell the government that judicial workers in the state are not happy.

The statement which was signed by the chairmen of the branches, D. U. Alinnor for Owerri Branch; B. A. Munonye, Orlu Branch; Ambrose Ugbaja, Mbaise Branch;  E. A. Ochionu, Okigwe Branch, and Richard Anyanwu for Mbano/Etiti branch, decried the constant attacks on judicial officers and facilities in the state.

The statement read, “The branches of the NBA in Imo State (Imo Bar) deplores the cold-blooded killing of a judicial officer, Nnaemeka Ugboma, who was shot in the court by some yet-to-be-identified gunmen on February 2, 2023.

“On receipt of the news, the Owerri branch of the NBA 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 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 the state and took 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 state government to provide, with immediate effect, security in and around all the courts in the 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, 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 February 6, 2023 to Wednesday, February 8, 2023, to register their displeasure with the current state of affairs.”

“Until the members of the Bar 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.”

Meanwhile, the police in the state have announced that they are on the trail of the killers of the magistrate.

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