The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Imo State has vehemently condemned the alleged assault, humiliation, and unlawful detention of one of its members, Chigozie Chinaka, by Assistant Commissioner of Police, David Ogenyi, and officers of the Owerri Municipal Command.
During a press conference at the NBA secretariat in Owerri, the state chairman, Allinor Ugochukwu, called on the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, to intervene in the matter and temporarily suspend ACP Ogenyi and the involved officers to ensure an impartial investigation.
Chinaka, the victim, recounted being severely beaten and stripped naked by ACP Ogenyi and other officers while performing his legal duty – securing the bail of a client who had been arrested and detained.
The NBA has requested the IGP to establish an independent panel to investigate the matter. Conversely, the Imo State Police Command has labelled the lawyer’s allegations as malicious and false.
Henry Okoye, the Public Relations Officer of the Imo State Police Command, stated that the lawyer’s account significantly diverges from what transpired. Nonetheless, he mentioned that the Commissioner of Police in the state has formed an investigative panel to examine the matter.
The alleged assault and unlawful detention of Chigozie Chinaka by ACP David Ogenyi and his officers is a stark reminder of the persistent and alarming issues related to police brutality and the disregard for legal processes in Nigeria.
The NBA’s call for an independent panel to investigate the matter and for the suspension of the involved officers is a step in the right direction, and we believe that the Inspector General of Police must heed his call to ensure justice and uphold the rule of law.
However, it is crucial to recognize that this incident is not an isolated case but a reflection of the systemic issues that plague the Nigerian Police Force. The recurring incidents of police brutality, particularly towards legal practitioners who are fundamental in upholding justice, are a glaring indication of the urgent need for comprehensive police reform in the country.
It is paramount that mechanisms are put in place to ensure that law enforcement officers are held accountable for their actions and that the rights and dignity of every individual, including legal practitioners, are respected and protected.
Moreover, the conflicting accounts of the incident from the NBA and the Imo State Police Command underscore the necessity for transparency and impartiality in the investigation to ascertain the truth and ensure that justice is served.
It is only through a transparent and unbiased process that the public can have confidence in the outcomes of the investigation and the justice system as a whole.
Did You Know?
- The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) was established in 1933 and is the main regulatory body of the legal profession in Nigeria.
- Imo State, located in the South-Eastern region of Nigeria, has experienced various security challenges, including police brutality and attacks by unknown gunmen.
- The Inspector General of Police (IGP) is the highest-ranking officer in the Nigeria Police Force.
- Police brutality has been a longstanding issue in Nigeria, sparking the nationwide #EndSARS protests in 2020.
- Legal practitioners in Nigeria have, on several occasions, faced challenges, including harassment and assault, in the course of their duties.