As the Nigerian Bar Association (“NBA”) published a press release lamenting the death of three of its members within the last fortnight in very tragic circumstances. It has become important to underscore the palpable and pervasive state of insecurity in our country.
On Friday, 31 November 2018, the decomposed body of Ikole-Ekiti NBA Branch Secretary, Adeola Adebayo, was recovered from a forest having been brutally murdered by his abductors. Recall that Adeola was kidnapped on Saturday, 17 November 2018 and a N3,000,000.00 ransom paid on Thursday, 22 November 2018 for his release – see the NBA Statement of 24 November 2018. Possibly, he was killed by the criminals even before the ransom was paid. How cruel!
In the evening of Thursday, 29 November 2018, while the NBA was still on bended knees for the release of Adeola, Adeshina Okeya, a new wig, was fatally attacked by a vigilante group in the outskirts of Abuja leading to his death the following day, Friday, 30 November 2019. Adeshina’s death was particularly tragic given the fact that the brutal attack that led to his death occurred on the same day he was called to Bar,i.e.Thursday, 30 November 2018. He didn’t even have the opportunity of registering with any NBA Branch post-Call, let alone of showcasing his wig and gown before Their Lordships and/or Their Honours.
Earlier, on Friday, 23 November 2018, the lifeless body of Remigus Ogu (Jnr), a serving Magistrate in Imo State, was found in the centre of a road in Amucha Community in Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State where it was dumped by his killers. Remmy (Jnr) was kidnapped the previous day, Thursday, 22 November 2018 and his killers, after dumping his body on the highway, made away with his official car, mobile phones and other personal effects.
Nevertheless, no arrest has been made in regard to the kidnaps and murders of Adeola Remmy (Jnr) and Adeshina. Adeola and Remmy (Jnr) were young fathers whose children have now been made fatherless and their young wives turned into widows. The fathers of NBA’s three fallen colleagues are all lawyers. Dr. Williams Adebayo, Adeola’s father, is a law lecturer at Ekiti State University while Ademola Okeya served as a past Chairman of Ikole-Ekiti Branch – the same Branch that Adeola served as Secretary up to his untimely and cruel death. Chief Remigus Ugo (Snr), the father of Remmy (Jnr) is the doyen of the Orlu Bar having been called to the Nigerian Bar in 1976.
These incidents bring to the fore the terrifying state of insecurity in the country. Adeshina would, perhaps, still have been with us if the state of insecurity in the country was not so grave such that communities have resorted to self-help in the form of vigilante groups. Community policing in other climes refers to the collaborative efforts of communities with the police to secure lives and property. In Nigeria, our vigilante groups effectively stand in for the police and assign to themselves the role of intercepting and confronting violent criminals. And to carry out these functions, they are armed by the communities that they protect with dangerous weapons including arms and ammunition thereby turning them into a parallel police system. The price we pay is exemplified by the very unfortunate death of Adeshola.
As part of efforts to curb this unfortunate trend, governments at all levels in the country must wake up to their primary responsibility of protecting lives and property. It is scary that criminals can so freely terrorize and murder innocent citizens, including judicial officers, and ransack court premises at night, under cover of darkness and even in broad daylight, during daytime.
Are our judicial institutions not meant to be heavily and fully fortified and made safe for all stakeholders? What happened to the security infrastructure that should envelop and protect our judicial officers, including magistrates? These issues should be of serious concern to our law enforcement agencies.
In the NBA press release signed by its President, Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN), he admonished all cadre of governments and the law enforcement agencies to immediately institute required remediation steps that would protect the lives and property of our citizenry and in the process regain public trust and confidence in our governments.
“Perhaps, we need to overhaul the law enforcement agencies in totality, retool them and retrain the personnel in a manner that would make them overawe the criminals and strike fear into their hearts. The fear and dread of law enforcement agents, as a deterrent for criminal conduct, particularly violent crimes, appears to be non-existent. That unfortunate perception must be quickly reversed by governments. Right now, it would appear that the criminals are not at all afraid of law enforcement agents” he said.
Beyond these remediation steps, we call on the law enforcement agencies to fish out urgently the murderers of our colleagues, Adeola, Adeshina and Remmy (Jnr) as a first and immediate step towards restoring the confidence of the Nigerian people.