The increasing spate of police brutality on Nigerians is already a very unfortunate thing which requires urgent remedial actions, but what is even more disheartening is that this horrendous police brutality is now being meted out on lawyers, who are supposed to be the defenders of the common man against human rights abuses!
Reading the report of Prof. J. N. Ezeilo (OON) regarding the horrible and inhumane abuses inflicted on our dear colleague – Ibangah Goodness, Esq, and reliving the grotesque imagery of the abuses expressed in that report left me feeling extremely distraught.
It is quite a sad event that some men, who are believed to be officers of the Nigerian Police Force, beat up the victim to a critical condition to the extent that she nearly lost consciousness, and this happened in Enugu, while she was on an official duty for Women Aid Collective (WACOL); a non-government organization.
The Nigerian Police Force is charged with the duty to protect lives and properties of Nigerians, but this brutality that was meted out on our dear colleague by officers of the Nigerian Police Force does not even remotely align with those duties of the police. In fact, any form of brutality in the hands of the police or any other security agency is a very condemnable act that should never be experienced by anyone, let alone lawyers, under any circumstances in a civil and democratic society like ours.
At times like this, it is important for members of the Bar to forge a united front against these human rights abuses, because acts of this kind tend to dissuade lawyers and/or intimidate lawyers from performing their parts in attaining justice in our society and in turn creating an environment that human rights abuses can thrive without restraint.
I condemn, in its entirety, the actions of the police officers that brutalized our colleague. I call on the Commissioner of Police, Enugu State Command and the Inspector General of Police to take expedient actions to ensure that justice is served on the police officers responsible for these heinous acts.
To my colleagues at the Bar, it is no longer time to keep quiet in the face of harsh treatments like the one meted against our colleague in Enugu because injustice to one is an injustice to all. We must collectively take steps, as an organization, to ensure that this kind of abuse does not re-occur against any person at all, more especially the members of the NBA. We must firmly stand against any form of violence against our colleagues.
I sincerely wish our dear colleague, Ibangah Goodness, a quick recovery from the trauma and physical injuries she must have suffered as a result of this ordeal.
SIGNED – Olumide Akpata