My attention has been drawn to a report on the re-arrest of Emperor Ogbonna, a legal practitioner practicing in Aba, Abia State.
I have also seen the detailed publication by Mr. Kunle Edun, the Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) dated the 29th of April, 2020, on behalf of the leadership of the NBA on this issue. The publication gives a detailed breakdown of the sequence of events leading up to the re-arrest and the position of the NBA on the re-arrest.
I applaud the Aba Branch of the NBA on the steps taken thus far and align myself entirely with the position of the NBA leadership.
It was not too long ago that a similar situation arose with Omoyele Sowore. The NBA, along with other groups and individuals demanded the release of Mr. Sowore pursuant to the bail he had been granted by the Federal High Court, Abuja. It took an unconscionably long time before the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation ordered Mr. Sowore’s release, allegedly on “compassionate” grounds and not in compliance with the judicial order granting him bail.
From this and other events, it has become obvious that disregard for the rule of law is becoming an entrenched feature of governance in Nigeria. The Department of State Security, the federal and state governments, the law enforcement agencies and lawyers are all culprits in this.
Lawyers are the ones people run to when their rights are infringed upon. When lawyers themselves are incapable of protecting their own rights, then society is in deep trouble.
We must all come together to fight against this and other acts of disrespect for the rule of law. All stakeholders, including members of the Bar and Bench must resist this descent into tyranny at all levels. This matter must be pursued, using all available legal means to ensure that Emperor Ogbonna’s rights are protected and that the authority of the court is vindicated.
Enough is enough.
We must do better.
Dr. Babatunde Ajibade, SAN, FCIArb