Lawyers on Thursday described the continous kidnap of judges in the country as a desecration of the temple of justice warning that the insecurity situation in the country could derail the rule of law.
The Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) in a statement on Thursday by its President Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN), urged security agencies to do all within their powers to secure the release of Justice Dogo’s Abdu Dogo of the Federal High Court, Akure Division, who was abducted on his way from Abuja at a border town between Edo and Ondo States, three days ago and N50 million demanded as ransom by his abductors.
The NBA decried general insecurity in the land, which it said gives the impression that security agencies are overwhelmed and have become flat-footed and called for better security for members of the Bench.
According to the NBA, in other climes where justice and the rule of law are prized, criminal attacks against judges are considered taboo even by criminals. It said where such occur, the long arm of the law is deployed to speedily bring the criminals to book.
The NBA said: “The more depressing aspect of this incident is that the NBA has established that Honorable Justice Abdu Dogo’s kidnap is not an isolated incident of security breach against our judges.
“Some weeks ago, the residence of the head of one of our federal courts was invaded and vandalised by burglars who made away with valuables. We also understand that some of our judges – including Court of Appeal Justices – do not even have police orderlies. That is how low and bad the security architecture around our judicial officers is and yet, we claim to prize justice and to be a country that places a premium on the rule of law.”
“For a start, government and its security and law enforcement apparatchik must secure the immediate and safe release of Honorable Justice Abdu Dogo and ensure that the criminals behind His Lordship’s abduction are met with justice. Beyond that, the entire security architecture around our judicial officers must be immediately rejigged and upscaled in a manner that places a premium on their lives and property.”
NBA said it made no sense a judicial officer of any court is not assigned a security detail as of right and without delay. It added that there was no reason the homes of judges should not be well-secured.
“Our Judges, we must remember, are expected to dispense justice without fear or favour. That ‘fear’ includes fear of criminals. We must now allow our judges to live and operate under the fear of criminals. Such fear pollutes and desecrates our fountain of justice and by extension the Rule of Law.
“On a general note, the NBA calls on governments at all levels to wake up to their responsibilities and stem the general sense of insecurity that pervades the land. To illustrate, our roads are now so notoriously unsafe that no sane person wants to ply them,” the association said.
The association said: “The situation has got worse and is now extremely dire. We, however, must not lose hope.
“The NBA, therefore, persists in calling on governments at all levels to please save us from these criminal gangs by protecting our lives and property. Without security, the potentials of Nigeria – be it economic, social, political or howsoever labelled – can never be fulfilled and/or realised.
“In particular, the NBA calls on governments and security agencies to review the security cordon, measures and arrangements around and for our judicial officers and ensure that they are provided with adequate protection and security at all times.