A Chief Magistrate was harassed for discharging three armed robbery suspects while two defense lawyers were beating for defending the suspects.
Punch reports that the unbelievable incident occurred in the Umuneke Ngor Magistrate’s Court in the Ngor Okpala Local Government Area of Imo State on Tuesday, July 17, 2018.
According to the report, the Chief Magistrate, Ngozi Onyenemezu, was harassed for discharging three armed robbery suspects.
While the defence counsel, Emma Eke and Chukwuemeka Anyanwu, were also allegedly beaten, arrested and bundled to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department in Owerri.
When the lawyers were arraigned before the Magistrate’s Court 1 in Owerri on Friday, July 20, 2018, the Assistant Secretary of Owerri chapter of the Nigeria Bar Association, Chinedu Agu, described the action of the police as an impunity that needed to be checked.
How a DPO led police officers to beat 2 lawyers and a magistrate
Narrating how his colleagues were beaten and a magistrate harassed in a court room, Agu said the actions of the police officers should not go without being checked.
“Three accused persons were arraigned before the Umuneke Ngor Magistrate’s Court on Monday where the counsel representing the accused persons, Eke and Anyanwu raised a preliminary objection on the grounds that the charge was defective and urged the court to strike it out and discharge the accused persons.
“The court was said to have entertained arguments from the counsel and the prosecution and adjourned the matter till Thursday for ruling.
Officers of the Nigeria Police Force. (Press)
“In his ruling, the court upheld the arguments of the counsel and struck out the charge. Immediately the ruling was delivered and while the court was still sitting, the police went berserk.
“They shouted and rained vituperations on the magistrate and made to rearrest the accused persons. When the court wanted to call them to order, the policemen made for the magistrate like rabid dogs and the magistrate quickly took refuge in his chambers.
“Some other lawyers and litigants scampered to safety when the police started shooting into the air. Anyau in the process escaped the beating by the police and scurried into the Magistrate’s chambers.
“The policemen, led by the DPO of that division, banged on the door of the magistrate’s chambers, accusing him of taking a bribe and threatening to break down the door if he didn’t open it.
“The DPO got hold of the accused persons and in the process of rearresting them, one escaped. He accused Eke of complicity in the escape of the other accused person.
“Before he could explain himself, he got hold of one of the nail-ridden chairs and smashed it on Eke’s head . Other policemen joined in this orgy and Emma was maimed and beaten into a pulp.
“It took the quick intervention of the Area Commander who arrived at the scene to rescue the magistrate,” he said.
Laywers granted bail after being harassed and arrested by police
At the court proceedings for the arrested lawyers by the police on Friday, July 20, 2018, no fewer than 80 lawyers led by a former Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General in the state, Soronadi Njoku, announced appearances for the two lawyers who were arraigned by the police.
Though the matter was adjourned till July 30, 2018, the presiding magistrate, ROC Nwoka, granted the two lawyers bail on self recognisance.
Nwoka also ordered the police to release a car belonging to one of the lawyers and make all records and documents available to the defendants for accelerated trial.