The Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, Port Harcourt Branch, has confirmed an attack on some of its members during their second-day court boycott over the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.
The lawyers who marched to the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt were attacked by some thugs inside the courtroom.
The Chairman of NBA Port Harcourt branch, Sylvester Adaka was also attacked during the process.
This is coming as the appellate court was set to deliver a ruling against the judgement of the Federal High Court which barred the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from recognising candidates of the All Progressive Congress, APC, for the 2019 elections in Rivers State.
The presiding Judge, Justice A. A. Gumel condemned and cautioned the lawyers and their approach in the protest, accusing them of desecrating the temple of justice.
Speaking to them, Gumel said: “Lawyers who are ministers of the court which is the temple of justice should not desecrate it by turning the courts into a public square, where lawyers will carry placards to disrupt court proceedings.”
He said that he was in the court just to take records of processes but will hear motions at an adjourned date.
But when members of the NBA insisted the sitting be adjourned, some party supporters in court attacked the NBA chairman and other lawyers who were with him.
They beat them up, insisting the proceedings must continue.
The matters slated for the day were the controversial All Progressives Party appeals.
The Court later took record of five different appeals afterwards, all bothering on decision of Justice Omotosho of the federal high court in Port Harcourt to stay executive on the judgement.
Justice Gumel however adjourned all appeals till January 31, 2019 for hearing of motion on notice
The Rivers APC governorship candidate, Tonye Cole, who was in court condemned the episode describing it as unfortunate.
He said: “I think what happened in court today was unfortunate and I don’t think it speaks well of the NBA.”
Adaka said lawyers were in court to peacefully boycott proceedings of the court as directed by its national secretariat and national executive committee before he was attacked.
He said: “While we were in court of appeal, I peacefully addressed the justices of the court of appeal to rise in continuation of our peaceful boycott of courts and also appealed to lawyers to leave the court premises.
“But while we were in court, a couple of thugs in the court premises attacked the lawyers there, the thugs zeroed in on me and a couple of lawyers, if not for the intervention of my colleagues around, I don’t know what would have happened.“