THE INVASION OF HIGH COURT FOUR, ASABA, DELTA STATE AND THE DISRUPTION OF ITS PROCEEDINGS BY THE POLICE OFFICERS ATTACHED TO THE CONVOY OF THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE, DELTA STATE COMMAND AND THE ASSAULT ON A LAWYER: A FERVENT CALL FOR THE DETERRENT LIGHT OF PUNISHMENT TO PREVAIL OVER THE DARKNESS OF IMPUNITY.
BY SAMSON C. OKEHIELEM, ESQ.
The judge is the most important figure in the judicial system and in the administration of justice. When a person is appointed a judge, he/she is considered to have many qualities far beyond that of mere mortals. This is the reason he/she is addressed as ‘My lord ‘. A learned writer, professor Epiphany Azinge, has once described the judge as the “Chief Priest of the temple of Justice and all who worship in that temple not only defer to him but perceives him as a symbol of justice”.
Any person or group of persons whose action tend to disrespect, or disregard or scorn the court, has always been held liable for contempt of court, especially in more civilized Climes, for if the court is brought to disrepute, then, the entire justice system is at risk of losing its potency. The Court is the judge and the judge is the court.
The High Court four is one of the Criminal Divisions of the High Courts in Asaba, Delta State, specially assigned to entertain and determine criminal matters. The court is situated at Umueze’s Road, Asaba, Delta
State, which is very much adjacent to the above Road. Whenever the court is in session, the aforesaid road adjoining the court , is always barricaded for the purpose of security and to ensure effective administration of justice. There are several alternative roads which any motor vehicles could access to arrive at their destinations.
On the 13th day of January, 2020, the court was in session when the men, operatives and officers (led by SP Oluwole Ojo, the DPO in charge of ‘A’ Division police, Asaba) attached to the convoy of Mohammed Hafiz Inuwa, who is the commissioner of police, Delta State command, came in a commando, gestapo style and ordered the registrar of Court 4 to remove the barricade in that the CP wanted to pass through the road.
The registrar told SP Oluwole Ojo that the
Court was in session and that they were disrupting the its proceedings. SP Ojo said that he didn’t care if the court was in session and insisted that the convoy of the CP must pass via the road. Suddenly, SP Ojo and his men forcefully dismantled the barricade, walked majestically along the road like infantry in a combative mood. Then, the CP and his convoy drove via the road, infesting the Court premises with the ironed hand of Lawlessness and pandemonium.
In the course of this melodramatic lawlessness and pandemonium, the presiding judge of the Court, Hon. Justice F. N. Azinge, had already been forced to run into her Chambers, having abruptly adjourned the proceedings of the Court. She ran and called on phone, the Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association, Fredrick Eruli-Ede, Esq.
At or about five minutes later, the court resumed its sitting or proceedings after the
CP convoy had driven passed the road. The barricade that was dismantled by the CP convoy was remounted when the court had resumed sitting. At about twenty minutes later, the aforesaid CP’s convoy returned in same commando style and insisted on passing through the said Umueze’s Road Again. The aforesaid presiding judge, ran into her chambers again, having also adjourned proceedings. The lawyers in the court on that day, including my humble self, came out of the Court. As I came out, I decided to use my handset to record the lawlessness being perpetuated by the CP’s Convoy.
As I was recording the lawless incident, one woman Sergent Galadima, armed with gun, came towards me, held me and assaulted me: she gave me a slap( while I was still fully robed in my wig and gown), stating that she had the order of the CP and the said DPO to assault me , for my having the audacity to take a shot of them- the police officers attached to the convoy of the CP. The said Galadima was so drunk with the order given to her by the CP that she attempted to assault me again and again but was held back by some lawyers as you can see on the short video clip. As a law-abiding citizen, I have decided to Retaliate against the assault on my person( through legal means) by suing the the Sergent, DPO, CP, etc.
The above-named chairman of the NBA, Asaba branch, called by the judge, did not come to the court until the convoy of the CP had gone. When he came, he collected my name and phone number, and apologized to me and to the court and left. The chairman has done nothing ever since then-since 13/01/2020, when the lawless incident occurred. I had expected the chairman to call for a press conference or for an emergency meeting of the NBA, Asaba Branch, to address the issue. He failed to do either of this. Thus, I want to use this medium to call for the immediate resignation of Fredrick Eruli-Ede, the Chairman of NBA, Asaba Branch, Asaba, Delta State.
One thing has always set me thinking: The
Continue culture of impunity and wanton disregard for our sacred institutions is increasingly and worryingly becoming the order of the day in Nigeria. On the 7th day
of October, 2006, official of the State Security Service (SSS) invaded the houses of serving justices of Supreme Court and some judges of the Federal High Court. On the 7th day of August, 2018, officers of the SSS, dressed in hoods and masks, invaded the Nigeria National Assembly by barricading its entrance, and preventing members from accessing the premises. Despity this, nobody was punished.
Recently, on the 6th day of December, 2019 SSS official invaded the court in order to rearrest Omoyele Sowore, which invasion sparked a nationwide outrage because of the anarchy that was loosed upon the court. Yet, nobody has been punished for the invasion. Impunity strives in a society when people do not get punished for the wrong they have committed. In Nigeria, the law is like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through. Therefore, I call for the deterrent light of punishment to prevail over the darkness of impunity: If those who invaded the court in Sowore’s case had been punished, then it would have served as a deterrent to those who invaded High Court 4, Asaba.