I have read with great consternation, the reports of the arrest of Mr. Onari Taylor Harry, a legal practitioner and member of the Degema Branch of the NBA. Current information received from the Branch is to the effect that Mr. Harry’s offence was that he issued a “quit notice” on behalf of a client with respect to the occupation of a disputed property in Port-Harcourt.
I have not heard the Police’s version of events and I am taking active steps to hear that side but from what I have gathered so far, Mr. Harry was arrested by officers of the Inspector General of Police Monitoring Squad on Tuesday night and taken to Abuja. This appears to be another in a recent spate of police harrasment of legal practitioners acting in the normal course of their professional duties.
It would appear that lawyers can no longer practice their profession in Nigeria without being at risk of Police harassment.
If Mr. Harry’s offence was the mere issuance of a quit notice as alleged, it is impossible to see how this justifies his arrest in Rivers State and transfer to Abuja against his will. I had earlier spoken to the Chairperson of Degema branch, Ms. Eucharia Somieari-pepple and I’m abreast of steps being taken by the branch to ensure the release of our colleague. I urge the relevant authorities to look into this and ensure Mr. Harry’s immediate release from Police custody.
Furthermore, in view of the consistency of actions of this nature by law enforcement agents, there is an urgent need for the leadership of the Bar to take action to forestall similar occurrences in the future.
Dr. Babatunde Ajibade, SAN, FCIArb