NBA Conference: Security scares over IPOB’s lockdown threat

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Lawyers in Lagos, Rivers, Cross River and Enugu states have tasked the federal and Rivers State governments as well as their umbrella Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Government to ensure security for attendees at 2021 Annual General Conference (AGC).

The AGC – the 61st edition – will open tomorrow in Port-Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, and end on October 29.

The lawyers, through NBA local chairmen in the four states, referred to the prevailing security breaches in the Southeast as a possible source of threat to their safety at the AGC.

They urged concerned authorities to ensure safety for NBA members who pass through the Southeast to the meeting venue in Rivers State.

The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has asked businesses in the Southeast to get set, beginning from tomorrow, for a month-long sit-at-home, if its leader Nnamdi Kanu is not brought to court at the resumed hearing.

Kanu, who is facing treason-related charges, is expected to appear before Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja tomorrow.

A source from the Ezeagu Branch (in Enugu) urged the national NBA to pressure the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to ensure that Nnamdi Kalu is produced in court as a way to de-escalate tension. The lawyer said: “If IPOB carries out its threat to lock down the Southeast for one month in the event of Federal Government’s failure to produce him in court; that will be bye-bye to our coming to the NBA confab in Port-Harcourt, especially for those physically attending and coming by road.

“Even if you beat it and come a day before 21st October, certainly you must come back after the conference and their threat is to lock down the region for one month.

“Going by the experience we have had in the past two months since their Monday lockdown began, it’s not a palatable experience…. kindly come to our aid..this is an SOS.”

The Calabar branch Chairman of the NBA, Attah Ochinke, noted that his members did not have to pass through any of the IPOB strongholds.

Nevertheless, he expressed concern about lawyers attending from the Northcentral states who, if coming by road, would have to pass through the Southeast.

Ochinke said: “For NBA Calabar Branch members that will be attending the conference in Port-Harcourt, our route from Calabar is through Uyo, straight to Port-Harcourt, avoiding the Southeast, because the roads connecting us through the Southeast to Port-Harcourt are in very bad shape.”

“However, we know that our colleagues in the Northcentral and Northeast that will be commuting through the Southeast are going to face difficulties if Nnamdi Kanu is not produced in court and IPOB makes good its promise to lock down the Southeast for a month. That will encompass the period in which we will be having the conference.

“Some of our members may be smart to leave for the conference a few days earlier to avoid the lockdown, but after the one week conference and if the Southeast is on lockdown, how can the members from the Southeast now return to their destinations? They won’t be able to go home; they will virtually become refugees or internally displaced persons.

“Our members from Northcentral will be in that difficulty, but they at least can find alternative routes back to their destinations, but the Southeast members will have no alternative.

“So, we are hoping that the DSS will produce Nnamdi Kanu in court and that is not even too much to ask for. If Nnamdi Kanu is accused of an offence and has even been charged to court, what is the difficulty in bringing him to face trial? Holding Kanu in detention without producing him in court is not the law taking its course. It’s not part of our justice system to hold somebody without trial.”

Nevertheless, he expressed confidence that the technical committee organising the AGC and the Rivers State government will rise to the occasion “for a hitch-free and safe conference.”

NBA Lagos Chairman, Ikechukwu Uwanna, said insecurity has become a near-nationwide problem and not restricted to the Southeast alone.

He said his branch was cautiously making arrangements for vehicles to convey members from Lagos to Port-Harcourt for the conference, because of the insecurity on the roads.

Uwanna said: “This is not because we think Port-Harcourt is unsafe, but because we can’t guarantee how safe road travel will be for our members, especially the fact we don’t have money to pay for ransom.

“We’ve received a lot of assurances from the TCCP that Governor Nyesom Wike has assured them that Port-Harcourt will be safe, that efforts are being made by security agencies to ensure that our members have a very interesting and intellectually rewarding conference and we don’t have any reason to doubt them.”

Chairman of the host branch, the Port-Harcourt branch, Prince Nyekwere, who referred this reporter to the NBA TCCP for clarifications, expressed the branch’s readiness to receive their visitors.

“In terms of security, I don’t have any problem at all with Port-Harcourt,” Nyekwere added.

TCCP chairman, Frank Omubo Briggs, had yet to respond to The Nation’s enquiries on the organisers’ security plans for the AGC.

Source: The Nation’s

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