Tag Archives: Nigeria

Afghan lawyers and judges in danger

24/01/23

Today, January 24, marks the Day of the Endangered Lawyer. As a Canadian lawyer I want to draw attention to the challenges facing some members of the legal profession in Afghanistan. Since the Taliban government assumed power in the country more than a year ago, the risk of retaliation and danger have only increased for many lawyers and judges, particularly women, advocates say.

For Nasrin (whose name has been changed to protect her identity), leaving Afghanistan was the last resort.

She had spent decades developing pioneering legislation and policies as a judge and legal advocate. When the Taliban took over in August 2021, everything changed. Facing death threats, she ultimately left. “I didn’t have any choice,” she told me. “I left my country, my house.” Now she and other legal activists are warning about the ever-increasing risks that lawyers and judges in the country still face and the need for countries like Canada to step up their efforts to help at-risk Afghans.

“If a woman wants to be a leader, like head of a court … it’s a very big position, but it is very dangerous,” Nasrin says.

Judges like Nasrin, as well as prosecutors, have been threatened with reprisals from the people they tried and the Taliban themselves. She is in contact with colleagues in the legal profession who remain in Afghanistan, and says the situation is worse than a year ago, as lawyers and judges fear for their safety.

“The first line is judges, the second line is defence lawyers and prosecutors … they are searching to find them,” she says.

The development of the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association (AIBA) in 2008 was part of a broader effort to build a non-governmental body that would regulate the legal profession and provide resources to support lawyers and access to legal services. But in November 2021, it was dismantled by armed Taliban soldiers and the Ministry of Justice gained possession of the AIBA’s database, containing contact information of members. The organization is now relaunching itself in exile, from Brussels.

[…]

https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/articles/43037/afghan-lawyers-and-judges-in-danger

https://amu.tv/en/33506/

International Day Of The Endangered Lawyer: “We Strongly And Unequivocally Condemn The Repressive Tendencies Of The Taliban Government In Afghanistan Towards Lawyers”- Maikyau

https://lso.ca/gazette/news/day-of-the-endangered-lawyer-2023?lang=en-ca

https://charidy.com/AfghanWomen (PLEASE CONTRIBUTE!)

https://zoom.us/rec/play/WXkxEyYXv5ZAen7O2varh9Ki_B7qCitqQjoNfZxmRrIZ6cITp1qWQ2dVYg1gYRYVLDVbuCHwW8XY1E3J.ZdDtRYfefnwmvALj

https://www.irishlegal.com/articles/afghan-women-judges-were-hunted-by-taliban-before-relocating-to-ireland

https://intr2dok.vifa-recht.de/receive/mir_mods_00014968

https://www.americanbar.org/advocacy/rule_of_law/blog/just-security-article-lawyers-under-threat/

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/global-rescue-effort-tries-to-help-afghans-female-judges-escape-the-taliban-regime

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/outrage-as-afghan-judge-denied-permission-to-enter-uk/5114917.article

https://punchng.com/nba-president-demands-end-to-extrajudicial-killings/

https://acrobat.adobe.com/id/urn:aaid:sc:EU:08f72d25-58c0-446c-888a-b56489eeb4da?viewer%21megaVerb=group-discover#DayoftheEndangeredLawyer

https://www.darivoa.com/amp/lawyers-in-Afghanistan-face-threats/6933046.html (DARI)

https://www.pashtovoa.com/a/us-special-envoy-for-afghan-women-says-will-stand-with-afghan-lawyers/6933080.html (PASHTO)

https://www.lextimes.fr/actualites/avocats-en-danger/treizieme-edition-consacree-lafghanistan (FRANCAIS)

https://www.tdg.ch/de-nombreuses-avocates-sont-menacees-de-mort-par-les-talibans-911401131682

https://lso.ca/gazette/nouvelles/journee-de-l%E2%80%99avocat-en-danger-2023

https://www.lexisnexislegalawards.co.uk/website/9292/shortlist/

Crisis Rocks Nigerian Bar Association as Ex-General Secretary Accuses President of Dictatorship

05/01/22

A former General Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association(NBA), Mr. Nimi Walson-Jack, has described his suspension from the National Executive Council(NEC) of the association as a return to the dark ages of socialism and communism when Governments sanctioned and jailed lawyers for representing persons whose activities were considered contrary to those of the political leadership.


Specifically, he accused the President of the Association and the General Secretary, Messrs. Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, SAN, and Daniel Ka-ayii Kip, of dictatorship and abuse of authority.
The former general secretary in a statement titled “The Unconstitutionality and Illegality of the Suspension of Hon. Nimi Walson-Jack from the NEC of the Nigerian Bar Association”, said the infamous resolution would win a gold medal in the coven of dictators, and an affront to the right of lawyers to represent the diverse interests of their law-abiding clients.
He said his suspension is an act of intimidation and harassment, which hinders his ability to continue to provide legal services to citizens who incidentally are also lawyers.


He warned that if the leadership of the NBA is allowed to get away with the illegality of his suspension, the right of Nigerians to lawyers of their choice, and the duty of lawyers to their clients would become endangered. According to him, it would be a triumph of the whims and caprices of individuals over the rule of law.
He called on International Lawyers’ Organisations, members of the legal profession in Nigeria and abroad, the Nigerian judiciary, the media, and Nigerians to question the commitment of the leadership of NBA  to promote the rule of law.


The statement reads: “The NBA  at the last meeting of its NEC held on Thursday, 15 December 2022, in Abuja, Nigeria, deliberated on a crackdown on members of the legal profession who are advocating and championing the formation of a new Professional Association for Lawyers in Nigeria and resolved to take punitive measures against them.


“In paragraph 2.1(e) of its communique issued on 15th December 2022, and signed by Messrs. Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, SAN, and Daniel Ka-ayii Kip, its President, and Assistant General Secretary, respectively, the NBA stated “NEC particularly resolves that a past General Secretary, Mr. Nimi Walson-Jack, who acted as a solicitor to the promoters of the new Law Society be stripped of his privileges as past general secretary and consequently, be suspended from being a member of the  NEC of the association.”
“The communique is clear on the fact that the reason for punishment (if it could be called that) is for discharging a professional duty to provide legal services to members of society.


“The resolution to punish me for representing the promoters of the new law society is a return to the dark ages of socialism and communism when governments sanctioned and jailed lawyers for representing persons whose activities were considered contrary to those of the political leadership. This infamous resolution would win a gold medal in the coven of dictators, not in the assembly of lawyers in defense of democracy and the tule of law. It is an affront to the right of lawyers to represent the diverse interests of their law-abiding clients.

[…]

https://punchng.com/nba-suspends-ex-secretary-over-parallel-lawyers-association/

Nigeria: Pandemonium as policeman kills Lagos female lawyer

26/12/22

There was pandemonium in the Ajah area of Lagos State on Sunday when a policeman attached to the Ajah Police Station shot dead a female lawyer, Bolanle Raheem.

PUNCH Metro gathered that the incident threw the community into confusion as the cop, who was with a team of policemen, fled the scene.

He was, however, caught and detained by the police.

Our correspondent learnt that Raheem, her sister, and four children were coming from an eatery in their car around 11am when the cop tried to stop them.

A source said the woman was trying to make a U-turn under the Ajah Bridge when the cop shot at her vehicle.

The bullet was said to have hit the victim; she was rushed to a hospital, where she was confirmed dead.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, confirmed the incident, adding that the officer was in custody.

He said, “The officer involved in the shooting is an ASP; he has been arrested, detained, and will be transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, for further investigations.”

https://punchng.com/pandemonium-as-policeman-kills-lagos-female-lawyer/

https://www.gistmania.com/talk/topic,551646.0.html

https://glonatnewsonline.com/extrajudicial-killing-pandemonium-in-lagos-as-policeman-kills-female-lawyer/

Nigerian Bar Association Condemns Attacks On Imo Courts, Lawyers

20/12/22

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has condemned that attack by some yet-to-be identified arsonists who burnt down the High Court of Imo State building including court’s files, exhibits, and records books in Orlu on December 16, 2022.

The NBA, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Akorede Lawal said the nation cannot build a virile justice system that upholds the rule of law if destruction of the structures upon which justice stands continues.

“The NBA is concerned that this suspected arson on the court was premeditated, as eyewitnesses (including a court official who lives close to the court in Orlu) confirmed that the perpetrators started by shooting sporadically to scare away everyone before wreaking havoc on the Court,” the statement partly read.

“The NBA is particularly disturbed that barely 48 hours after the incident at the High Court of Imo State, Orlu, there was another fire incident at the Bailiffs’ Section of the Magistrates Court in Owerri, Imo State and all the files and exhibits in that part of the Magistrates Court were totally destroyed.

“While investigations are ongoing to determine the actual cause of the fire incident in the Owerri Magistrate Court, the NBA notes with deep concern that attacks on judicial institutions are gradually becoming a disturbing trend in Imo State.

[…]

https://punchng.com/nba-laments-imo-attacks-govt-promises-better-security/

https://thenationonlineng.net/nba-laments-targeted-attacks-on-lawyers-judges-courts/

Counting the kidnapped and the killed among Nigeria’s judges, lawyers

18/12/22

To survive in Nigeria’s legal profession these days, practitioners and judges require skills in the martial arts; nimbleness of feet on an Olympian scale; weapons handling; not to mention advanced training in subterfuge. Sadly, these are not offered on the curriculum of the Nigerian Law School nor in judicial orientation.

Even with these skills reinforced by a wing and a prayer, being connected with the business of the legal process in Nigeria today is often life endangering.

In August 2015, Nigeria’s State Security Service (SSS) announced that they had arrested members of a kidnapping syndicate who were about to abduct judges sitting on election petitions in Owerri, capital of Imo state. They named the leader of that syndicate as one Chibueze Henry, who went by the operational alias, Vampire. Charges followed against Vampire and his gang whose trial began in Owerri, the following year.

Now, the High Court in Owerri occupies a prominent piece of real estate, a shouting distance between the office of the State Governor and the headquarters of the Imo State Police Command. Entrance into the premises is controlled by gates, managed by security people who are public officials. In one of the court halls on this premises, the trial of Vampire and his gang was scheduled to continue on the morning of 27 January, 2017.

[…]

2021 was a particularly bad year for lawyers around the country. The month after Omekagu’s murder in Orlu, Ajah Ogbonna Ajah and another of his colleagues, both lawyers, were killed on the road by unidentified gunmen while on their way to court in Abakaliki, the capital of Ebonyi State in south-east Nigeria.

They were by no means the only victims in the region or in the year. In May, former High Court judge, Stanley Nnaji, died, assassinated by unknown persons on the streets of Enugu State.

In November 2021, seven unidentified men macheted to death Kenechukwu Okeke, in Nkpor, in Anambra State. They killed him in the presence of his wife and young daughter. Okeke, a lawyer, had been outspoken in his support of Nigeria’s ban on Twitter.

These killings of lawyers, magistrates, and judges were not limited to South-East Nigeria. On 17 February, 2021, gunmen shot and killed Nkiru Agbasu, a pregnant lawyer, along the Warri-Sapele Road in Delta State.

[…]

The killings and abductions of lawyers and judges recounted here are only a fraction of the story. Three things are clear about them.

First, the perpetrators nearly always get away with it. Second, any society that tolerates these kinds of attacks on its courts, judges, and lawyers is lawless. Third, the NBA does not yet have a focused program for ensuring accountability for these attacks on lawyers and judges. That is the first thing that needs to change.

https://punchng.com/counting-the-kidnapped-and-the-killed-among-nigerias-judges-lawyers/

Nigeria: Kill all the lawyers

11/12/22

[…]

This pattern of killing of lawyers in and around Port Harcourt is not history.

Around 20 November 2022, unidentified gunmen killed Lazarus Jerome in Ahoada, Rivers State. The following day, his lawyer, Nathan Akatakpo, met the same fate in the same neighbourhood.

Five years after the crime, in July 2020, the High Court of Rivers State convicted Chinwendu Alozie, Wilfred Jumbo, and Gift Amadi for the murder of Sampson Worlu, sentencing them to death.

Three months after he was killed, the police in Port Harcourt organised a news conference at which they paraded five men as suspects in the killing of Ken Asuete. There has been no conviction but these two are exceptions to a pattern of impunity.

Former First Vice-President of the Nigerian Bar Association, John Aikpokpo Martins, says of these attacks on lawyers in Rivers State that “it is so normal to kill a lawyer for defending others.”

Increasingly, many Nigerian lawyers now live on the horns of a choice between silver and lead.

Rivers State only illustrates a trend that appears to have become normalized in the country. In neighbouring Imo State, former chair of the Nigerian Bar Association in Owerri, Ndionyenma Nwankwo, was matcheted to death in February 2021 in an attack in which the principal suspect was his chauffer, who remains at large. The following month, in March 2021, Frank Onwuachi, Chair of the NBA in Otuocha, near Onitsha, was similarly liquidated.

They are by no means the only NBA leaders to have been killed. In September 2018, Emeka Agundu, Chair of the Association in Obollo-Afor, Udenu LGA of Enugu State, was shot dead.
In December, 2018, Adeola Adebayo, Secretary of the Association in Ikole-Ekiti in south-west Nigeria was abducted and murdered.

In August 2002, then Chairman of the NBA in Onitsha, Anambra State, Barnabas Igwe and his wife, Abigail, also a lawyer, were both brutally murdered by unknown persons.

The year before that, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Bola Ige, was killed in his house in Bodija, Ibadan, Oyo State on 23 December 2001.

According to the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, “where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.”

Sadly, a government – such as we have in Nigeria – that is unable to guarantee basic safety and security for its citizens, however, cannot do much to help lawyers.

In the past, the response of the NBA was to launch an appeal fund to assist lawyers in emergency in parts of the country, which was poorly subscribed. Today, the emergency affects lawyers all over the country and requires the Bar Association to re-imagine itself and its capabilities.

https://punchng.com/kill-all-the-lawyers/

https://saharareporters.com/2022/11/26/ebubeagu-politics-and-ghost-bakassi-boys-damian-ugwu

https://standardobservers.com/gunmen-kill-rivers-lawyer-client/

https://nigerianbar.org.ng/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigerian_Bar_Association

Nigeria: Police silent as lawyer is assassinated in Rivers

26/11/22

Gunmen have killed a lawyer, Nathan Akatakpo and his client, Lazarus Jerome in Ahoada East Local Government Area of Rivers State.

Jerome from Ihugbogo Community in the LGA was shot dead at Akoh center on Sunday while Akatakpo who is from the same Akoh Kingdom with Jerome was shot dead at about 7:38pm on Monday in front of his house.

The reason for their killing has was not immediately. Spokesperson of the Rivers State Police Command, Grace Iringe-Koko did not respond to text messages to her phone for comments.

But locals in Ahoada told our correspondent that the killings were carried out by cultists in the area.

A resident of the area who identified herself as Blessing said cult-related killings have increased in the area in the last three months.

According to her “People are dying like fowls here. Few weeks ago, more than eight persons were killed in a cult-related shooting.

“Killings in Ahoada East LGA and Akoh kingdom are getting out of hand if something is not done about the hideout of these hoodlums at Odiemude Community”

Akatakpo, a University of Portsmouth trained lawyer was a youth leader and activist.

John Aikpokpo-Martin, the immediate past Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) 1st Vice President, had condemned the assassination.

[…]

Nigerian High Court Awards N155 Million In Damages To Aide Of IPOB Lawyer, Ejiofor, Killed, Burnt By Police, Others

27/10/22

Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa delivered the judgement on Thursday in the Anambra State capital, Southeast Nigeria.

The Federal High Court sitting in Awka has awarded N155 million in damages to the family of the late Samuel Uzo Okoro, Personal Assistant to Ifeanyi Ejiofor, lead counsel for the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). 

Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa delivered the judgement on Thursday in the Anambra State capital, Southeast Nigeria.

The judgment followed a fundamental rights suit filed on behalf of the late Okoro, popularly known as Biggy while alive.

Okoro who was a Personal Assistant to Ejiofor was murdered by security operatives including the police; Nigeria’s secret police, the Department of State Services (DSS) and soldiers.

The incident occurred during a raid on Ejiofor’s home in Oraifite, Anambra State in June 2021.

Okoro’s remains were also burnt by the operatives.

Delivering judgment on Ejiofor’s suit on Thursday, Justice Nganjiwa held that the Nigeria Police, the DSS and the Nigerian Army are liable for Okoro’s death during their bloody invasion.

Granting all reliefs sought by Ejiofor, the judge awarded compensatory and exemplary damages of N155 million to the family of the late Okoro.

https://saharareporters.com/2022/10/27/breaking-nigerian-high-court-awards-n155-million-damages-aide-ipob-lawyer-ejiofor-killed

https://politicsnigeria.com/just-in-court-awards-n155m-as-damages-to-slain-ipob-lawyers-pa/

https://ng.opera.news/ng/en/society/8a843eaa3ace12fa5a3c0dcf5a021091

https://ng.opera.news/ng/en/military/ccdb058737c9b087b950713821a43d82

https://ng.opera.news/ng/en/justice/1333411159e08f4111bb887f5bf4da14

Nigeria: Stem Harassment Of Lawyers, Respect Citizens Rights, NBA-SPIDEL Urges Security Agencies

18/09/22

The Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA- SPIDEL) has urged security agencies to stop the harassment of lawyers and respect the citizens’ Rights.

NBA-SPIDEL in a press statement signed by Dr Monday Ubani, National Chairman of the legal body noted that it has observed with dismay some infractions that are perpetrated by the security agencies against legal practitioners in the conduct of their professional duties to their clients. 

According to Ubani, the maltreatment ranges from the brutalization of lawyers to denial of the use of their communication gadgets as well as the arbitrary transfer of cases to the headquarters in Abuja even when all the parties reside outside Abuja. 

“On the issue of harassment and brutalization of lawyers, while carrying out their professional duties, it is now notorious that all the security agencies in Nigeria have an infamous record of human rights abuses and brutality against the citizens whenever they are suspected of committing any crime. It bears stating that some of these alleged crimes stem from unreasonable and unfounded suspicions. 

“It is clearly illegal for an agency that is charged with investigating a matter and collating evidence to turn itself into the accuser, prosecutor and judge. What is more appalling is that a lawyer can quickly transmute from merely representing his client to being labelled an accused person by the security agents, leading to brutalization, harassment, unlawful arrest and detention.

[…]

https://nigerianbar.org.ng/

Nigeria: My one-month experience in prison dehumanising –Lawyer jailed for contempt

27/08/22

Human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, who was jailed for contempt by the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaette Obot, in controversial circumstances on July 27, regained his freedom on Friday. He speaks with GODFREY GEORGE about his one-month prison experience

Would you like to recount what your first day was like in detention in the Ikot Ekpene Custodial Facility in Akwa Ibom state?

By the time I arrived, I was not perturbed by my sentence in any way. They first took me to the Uyo Correctional Facility but they did not admit me. They referred me to Ikot Ekpene, and I was supposed to be there for two weeks. When I got to Ikot-Ekpene, I was admitted and immediately confronted with the reality of the abominable neglect of the correctional centre in the country. Even though the Ikot Ekpene Prisons building is relatively new, as it was recently renovated by former Governor Godswill Akpabio, life there is still very horrible.

Most Nigerians may not know how bad the condition is until they experience it. I had to remove my shoes when I was admitted. They took my properties and took account of them. Then, I had to be shown the cell where I was going to spend two weeks. The custodial centre in Ikot-Ekpene is terribly and disgustingly congested. Inmates live basically like animals. There are people who do not even have a space to lie. They sit with their legs tied and others sit close to them. That is the condition that some of them have had to live for years since their sentence. I was so enraged by what looked like an attempt to replicate the Nazi concentration. But then, I was told there was what they called the ‘special cell’, some kind of ‘privileged cell’ at the Ikot Ekpene Custodial Centre. They told me that I would either adjust to the very dehumanising condition I find myself in the regular cell or I had to pay for a space in the so-called special cell.

How much did it cost?

The officers said it would cost me N50, 000. I knew I had just two weeks to stay, but I had to pay that money so I could get a space. There were three of us in the room. There was no bed; there was just a small mattress. I adjusted. As I said, I had always mentally prepared for incarceration. So, we had to sleep on the floor. There was no net for me to shield myself from mosquitoes. I had to share the toilet with other people. It wasn’t palatable. But that is what people even consider to be one of the best in the country. I don’t think that is even fit for any inmate in this country to be kept.

[…]

https://punchng.com/my-one-month-experience-in-prison-dehumanising-lawyer-jailed-for-contempt/

https://www.vanguardngr.com/2022/08/human-rights-lawyer-inibehe-effiong-released-from-prison/

https://thenationonlineng.net/breaking-inibehe-effiong-regains-freedom-after-30-day-incarceration/

https://guardian.ng/news/inibehe-effiong-nigerian-lawyer-detained-for-contempt-regains-freedom/

https://saharareporters.com/articles/lawyers-may-no-longer-be-free-akwa-ibom-courtrooms-after-chief-judge-obot-asked-armed-men

https://punchng.com/for-inibehe-effiong/