The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Port-Harcourt Branch, said that it condemned in the strongest terms the “brazen and wanton” destruction of a High Court building and other amenities in the Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State by those it termed cretins who had hijacked peaceful protests embarked upon by youths in the country asking for reforms in the police.
In a release signed by its Chairman, Prince Nyekwere, Esq, the NBA said it condemned “the brazen and wanton destruction of the High Court building and other amenities in Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State.”
The group said Nigerians had right to peaceful protests and lawful assembly and had cautioned the federal government against abusing their rights.
The statement said: “We call on government at all levels to address the genuine concerns of the protesters.”
It however expressed gladness that the state government had set up commission of inquiry into the alleged brutalities of the SARS operatives and had urged members of the public who suffered police brutalities to make their representations to the commission.
The NBA Chairman said: “We encourage all members of the public who have suffered one form of police brutality or the other to make their representations to the commission. The NBA, Port-Harcourt Branch, hereby declares its willingness to assist and represent without any charges members of the public who may not have the means to retain a legal practitioner to represent them at the commission and request such persons to contact the Human Rights Desk at the office of the Confidential Secretary, NBA, Port Harcourt Branch House, Bank Road, Port-Harcourt.”
As the protests were underway, the banned Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) allegedly carried out attacks in Oyigbo Local Government and burnt police stations and had destroyed a High Court building, which led the governor of the state, Chief Nyesom Wike, to declare 24-hour curfew on the local government and other parts of the state.
He had also set up a commission of inquiry into the cases of brutality by Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) operatives in the state.
The protests embarked upon by the youths demanded police reforms and good governance and had generated reactions from among Nigerians.
A human rights advocate, Barrister Higher King, said that the people of the country should have a “new Nigeria” with the protests at the time.
Barrister King had said that reforms needed in the country could come by force or by peaceful means.