Members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Imo staged a peaceful protest on Tuesday following the incessant attacks, killings, and kidnappings by gunmen in the state.
Their grievances were heightened with the killing of Nnaemeka Ugboma, the chairman, of Customary Court, Ejemekwuru in the Oguta Local Government Area, on February 2 within the court premises while presiding over a matter.
The group also decried the gruesome murder of the sole administrator of Ideato North Local Government Area of the state, Chris Ohizu, among other incidents.
The lawyers had marched with placards from their Owerri bar centre to the Police Headquarters near the Government House, Owerri.
Some of their placards read “Violent attacks on Imo citizens must end now!! #saveourland#”, “Murder in the court, stain on justice”, and “We demand justice for the slain customary court chairman #JusticeforUgboma,” among others.
A nine-point communique read by the chairman, of the NBA Owerri branch, Damian Alinnor, shortly before the protest, expressed concern that the insecurity situation in the state had assumed a worrisome state.
“Imo state must not be reduced to a theatre of war for any reason, known or unknown,” he appealed.
Mr Alinnor further called for urgent beefing up of security around the courts, including building a perimeter fence and devising a roundtable dialogue between the government and non-state actors to address the perceived agitations.
According to Mr Allinor, until members of the bar in Imo are sufficiently assured of the safety of the judiciary, the bar, and litigants as well, it may advisedly recommend that members desist from attending courts.
“In this circumstance, the members of the bar in Imo have resolved to boycott all courts from Monday, February 6 to Wednesday, February 8, and call on the relevant authorities to make clear assurances of the safety of the Judiciary, the bar and litigants before court resumes,” he said.
The communique was signed by the five chairmen of Owerri, Orlu, Mbaise, Okigwe, and Mbano/Etiti NBA branches in the state.
The NBA members also observed a one-minute silence in honour of the late Ugboma and others, who have lost their lives to insecurity in the state.
However, neither the state Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Barde, nor any other senior police officers attended to the protesters as of the time of the report.
But the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Henry Okoye, who picked up a call put across to him, said he was in a meeting.
Mr Okoye did not respond to a text message seeking his reaction on the matter.