Following the abduction of human rights lawyer Chief Mike Ozekhomhe, SAN, Chairman of Nigerian Bar Association, Auchi branch, Edo State, Mr. Anthony Atemoagbo has said that the association may go back to its earlier decision not to defend cases of kidnapping in court if the lawyer was not released unconditionally by those still holding him.
In an interview with Vanguard, yesterday, Atemoagbo said, “We are appealing to the kidnappers to have a second look at what they have done. It is not too late to release him and others with him. Now that they have taken a step that people locally, nationally and internationally are bitter about, they should think and release the man unconditionally.
“If they don’t, they will be setting a very dangerous precedent which I think is going to affect the lives of others. At a point, we have to take a decision on how to ensure that nobody comes out to defend cases of kidnapping.
“We felt at that time that the decision was a little bit rash, but I think we are going back again to it because we don’t know who will be the next victim. So, we are rather appealing to them to release Chief Ozekhome, so that all of us can come together and do what is right in the defence of human rights.”
He expressed sadness over Ozekhome’s kidnap at a time when the NBA annual general conference was going on in Calabar, Cross River State.
“Our feeling about the whole thing is that it is an affront on the Bar and the Judiciary. Only recently, the wife and daughter of one of our eminent jurists, Justice Rhodes Vivour, were kidnapped. We are sad about these developments because lawyers are supposed to be people who protect the rights of others. Now we are virtually being attacked by human beings, who have no consideration for the lives of others.”
He therefore appealed to security agents in the country to be more pro-active and collaborate with telecommunication providers to track down the movements of the abductors, just as he commiserated with the Police authorities over the death of four police men who were killed while trying to rescue the human rights lawyer.