Distinguished Colleagues, I viewed with revulsion, the video recording of the inhuman and degrading treatment given to Mr. Kunle Karimu, a lawyer and member of the Nigerian Bar Association, Lagos Branch by officers of the Nigerian Police.
In the video, Mr. Karimu was seen being threatened with a gun and being slapped repeatedly. From Mr. Karimu’s narration, what appeared in the video was just the beginning of the brutalization that was meted out to him. He was thereafter taken downstairs and battered further, leaving him with swollen ear and jaw, a twisted ankle and other abrasions. His clothes and belt were torn and ripped apart.
I state unequivocally that the conduct of the police officers was egregious and wholly unwarranted. No Nigerian citizen, let alone a lawyer, should be subjected to that kind of treatment. Whatever the complaint made against Mr. Kunle Karimu by his former employer is, he did not deserve to be dealt with in the manner the police officers did.
As I had indicated in my last statement on this matter, today, I led members of the Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association, Lagos Branch (the Branch) to submit a petition to the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Mr. Imohimi D. Edgal against the two police officers who had assaulted Mr Olakunle Karimu.
In the petition which I personally delivered to the Commissioner to underscore the importance the Branch attaches to the matter, the Branch demanded: (i) the investigation and punishment of the officers involved in the shameless act, (ii) immediate suspension of these officers pending the conclusion of investigation, and (iii) full and adequate compensation of Mr. Karimu for the injuries, losses and humiliation he suffered in the hands of the officers failing which the Branch will take sustained legal action to seek redress for Mr. Karimu.
We used the opportunity offered by the meeting to call upon the Commissioner of Police to rein in his men/officers and caution them over the incessant harassment and assault of lawyers and other members of the public.
In his response, the Commissioner of Police, who welcomed us warmly and pleasantly, informed us that he had already ordered the arrest, detention and trial on oath of the affected officers and that upon conclusion of their trial, appropriate punishment would be served upon them. We agreed with the Commissioner that the Branch would be kept updated on the matter by the Lagos State Police Command.
I thank members of the Executive Committee and other members of the Branch who accompanied me to the Police Headquarters. I also thank Mr. Ade Adegbite, the National Welfare Secretary and our colleagues from the Ikeja Branch (including Mr. Adeshina Ogunlana, the immediate past Chairman of Ikeja Branch) who accompanied us to the Police Headquarters.
Let me also state that I have spoken to Mr. Yomi Olawore who is also a member of our Branch and at whose instance the police officers were called in. I had mentioned in my earlier statement that Mr. Karimu had already submitted a petition against Mr. Olawore to the Disciplinary and Ethics Committee of the Branch. I consider it appropriate that we all wait for that Committee to investigate the petition. As lawyers, we are not trained to decide matters or reach conclusions without hearing all the parties. I have no doubt that the Disciplinary Committee of the Branch under the leadership of Mrs Abimbola Akeredolu, SAN will do a thorough job and be fair to all the parties.
Chukwuka Ikwuazom, Esq.
(Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, Lagos Branch)
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