The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Thursday condemned the kidnap of a judge of the Federal High Court of Akure, Justice Abdu Dogo by unknown gunmen.
It called on law enforcement and security agencies not only to secure the immediate release of the jurist but also to work at apprehending the criminals behind the dastardly act and bringing them to justice.
Justice Dogo was kidnapped on Tuesday alongside his driver at Ibilo-Isua Akoko axis, a border town between Ondo and Edo states, on his way from Abuja to Akure.
The kidnappers had contacted the judge’s family members to demand a N50 million ransom.
In a statement signed Thursday by its President, Paul Usoro (SAN), the NBA said the kidnap of Justice Dogo was one crime that must be condemned in the harshest terms by all.
He stated that by their nature, judges are, by definition, the gatekeepers and high priests of the temple of justice and, by extension, the rule of law whose pronouncements are critical and required for the protection, promotion and upholding of the rule of law and the dispensation of justice generally.
Usoro called for the immediate rejigging of the entire security architecture around judicial officers in a manner that would place premium on their lives and property.
He stated that it makes no sense in the Nigeria of 2019, a judicial officer of any court is not assigned a security detail as of right and without any delay.
The NBA reiterated its call on governments at all levels to save Nigerians from criminal gangs, adding that without security, the potential of Nigeria being a great country can never be fulfilled or realised.
The association said governments must rise up to the security challenges in the country and ensure the security of lives and property generally.
It equally charged governments and security agencies to review the security cordon, measures and arrangements around judicial officers and ensure that they are provided with adequate protection and security at all times.
“Their pronouncements secure our freedom and liberty. Without them, we degenerate into a state of anarchy.
“We cannot therefore claim to be a country that lives by and places premium on the rule of law when the gatekeepers and High Priests of that sanctum are so flagrantly kidnapped and abducted by common criminals who now have the temerity and audacity to demand for N50million ransom before His Lordship can be released.
“This is nothing short of the desecration of our fountain and temple of justice. 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.
“There is indeed no reason why the homes of our judges should not be well secured and protected with adequate security cordon.
“Our judges, we must remember, are expected to dispense justice without fear or favour.
“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 premium on the rule of law.
“In other climes where justice and the rule of law are prized, criminal attacks against judges are considered taboo even by criminals and where they occur, the long arm of the law is deployed to speedily bring the criminals to book.
“We betray our vaunted esteem for justice and its administration and the Rule of Law when we cannot even protect and secure the men and women who dispense justice in our country.”