*Says Members Detained Without Full Disclosure Of Offence
*Says Police Threatened To Shoot Chairman, Others Branded Them, Terrorists
Saheed Akinola esq
The Nigerian Bar Association, (NBA), Orlu Branch has raised an alarm over the illegal arrest and detention of her members without full disclosure of their offence.
According to the statement signed by the PRO, B. I Onyekwere Esq., under the directives of the CLC Agbordike led exco of NBA Orlu branch, on Wednesday, 14th day of April 2021, three Orlu based law firms were invaded by policemen who claimed to be members of the IRT answerable only to the IGP. They arrested the head of chambers of the law firms as well as all the lawyers of the said firms.
On arrival at the police station, the only explanation they were given were:
“That the police team have been closely monitoring the phone line of a suspect.
“That the phone numbers of the 3 heads of the affected law firms were regularly called by the suspect’s phone line.
“That the lawyers are thus believed to have links with the suspect and are being detained pending the apprehension of the suspect.
According to the statement of Onyekwere, Esq., the identity of the suspect or the offence which he is suspected to have committed were not explained.
“The chairman of the Orlu branch of the NBA visited the police station to inquire for the detained lawyers as well as possibly secure their release but to his surprise was also detained until about 2:00 pm of 14th April 2021 when he was released alongside the lawyers who were working in the affected law firms.
“Attempts to get their 3 heads of chambers released proved abortive.
“At about 4:00 pm, the chairman of Orlu Bar was invited by the police to come and identify the detained lawyers, the chairman was bemused as to how he would need to identify the same lawyers he had earlier come for and was detained alongside them.
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“As a law-abiding citizen, he however drove back with a few other lawyers from Orlu to the police headquarters Owerri and on arrival by 5 pm, the policemen at the gate refused them entry.
“When the lawyers led by their chairman sought audience with the policemen at the gate, the later cocked their rifles and threatened to shoot them and brand them, terrorists, hence the NBA Orlu chairman and his team drove back to Orlu,” he added.
He further noted that as at the time of filing this report, the 3 heads of the law firms affected are still being detained by the police, their phones seized from them and there is no information as to the identity of the suspect who is supposedly at large nor on the nature of crime being investigated.
The NBA Orlu branch hereby condemns this bizarre wielding of brute Force by the police.
“It is ridiculous that a citizen would be arrested and detained because his phone number is alleged to be receiving calls from a suspect.
“It is more ridiculous that the identity of the suspect is yet to be revealed to the citizen so as to give him the choice of possibly assisting the police track down the suspect.
“It becomes all the more comically ridiculous that whatever technology the police used to identify numbers that communicated with the suspect’s phone and their location could not identify the location of that suspect’s phone.
“The NBA Orlu remains a professional organization with law abiding members and hereby calls on the police to release it’s members as there is no justifiable reason for their arrest and continued detention.
“It suffices to note that every citizen (including a convict who is no longer presumed innocent) is entitled to the services of a legal practitioner at least to prosecute his appeal, hence it is antithetical to every sense of justice to arrest and detain a lawyer for allegedly communicating with a person who is still a suspect of a yet to be disclosed crime ,” he added.