OWERRI- A cross-section of lawyers in Imo has called for enhanced security in the state to forestall further attacks targeted at judicial officers, staff members and court facilities.
The legal practioners made the call at a valedictory session held in honour of late Magistrate Nnaemeka Ugboma, the former Chairman, Obudiagwa Customary Court in Oguta Local Government Area.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Ugboma was shot dead by yet-to-be identified gunmen on February 2.
The gunmen, who reportedly rode in motorcycles, were said to have shot and killed the 55-year-old man, after identifying him as their target, while he was presiding over a court session.
About eight months after the incident, lawyers, who gathered at the Justice Oputa High Court, Owerri, for the session, made a case for enhanced security in the state.
In a remark, the Chief Judge of Imo, Justice T.N. Nzeukwu, who presided over the session, condoled with the bereaved families over the unfortunate demise of Ugboma.
“That he was shot and killed while performing his adjudicative functions has once more emphasised the need for a more pragmatic approach to the issue of security and safety of all those who sit in judgment.
“We are pained and saddened that the Judiciary of Imo has been diminished again, this time, not by natural death but by death orchestrated by fellow human beings,” he said.
Nzeukwu was represented by Justice T.E. Chukwuemeka-Chikeka.
Also, the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Owerri branch, Mr Ugochukwu Alinnor, said Ugboma’s death laid emphasis on the security gaps endangering the judiciary, officers and staff members.
“The security of our courts, the judicial officers and staff that man these court should be of paramount importance and should therefore be beefed up to forestall attacks on them in the discharge of their duties.
“Security personnel should be posted to all the courts in the state and orderlies attached to the judicial officers to nip in the bud any plan to attack the court,” he said.
Alinnor also berated the police over the alleged inhuman and degrading treatments meted out on law-abiding citizens and members of the association recently in Owerri.
He said rather than tackle the security situation ravaging the state, the police have made members of NBA subject of unlawful arrest, torture, detention, harassment and intimidation.
“The recent arrest, detention and torture of our colleague, Chigozie Chinaka, by ACP David Ogenyi, Area Commander, Owerri Municipal, and his cohorts, is unbelievably dehumanising and ought to be questioned,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Owerri Bar, Mr Eze Iheoma (SAN), described the violent attacks on legal practitioners as a latter day development.
Iheoma called for an escalation of the worrisome situation in the media to enable the government to take a more decisive action.
In a speech, the Learned Cock of the Bar, Mr Peter Mgbenwelu, expressed concern that “a member of the noble profession could be brazenly and brutally murdered in similar manner and venue.”
Mgbenwelu called on government at all levels and security agencies to urgently cleanse and purge the state of insecurity.
On his part, the state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Cyprian Akaolisa, described the security situation in the state as a “dilemma”.
Akaolisa said he had been a victim of violence in the state as his country home was once invaded and razed down in an attempt to murder him.
“Anybody could fall a victim.
“We were targeted because we are politicians, but today, anyone can become a victim.
“Those carrying these guns have no friend, they kill both their friends and enemies,” he said.
However, the Attorney-General said the state Government, in collaboration with the security architecture in the state, was taking measures to stop the violence.
In a sermon at an open air service at Ugboma’s country home in Nnebukwu Community, Rev. Fr. Placidius Ezeji of All Saints Catholic Church, Nnebukwu, underscored the need for all to live a godly life in readiness to meet God.
“Seek the face of God rather than seeking material and ephemeral things,” he said.
NAN reports that Ugboma, who was survived by an aged mother, siblings and three children, was interred in his family compound in Nnebuwku, Oguta. (NAN)(