The All Progressives Congress, APC has raised alarm over the use of persons suspected to be thugs to disrupt proceedings at the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt today.
Recall that the Court of Appeal had set today as a day of hearing in respect of the application for a stay of execution of the ruling of the Federal High Court brought by the APC.
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Spokesman of the Cole/Giadom Campaign Organisation, Ogbonna Nwuke said in a statement in Port Harcourt that it was shocked that protesting lawyers who stormed the court were accompanied by undesirable and violent elements who are not part of the legal profession.
Noting that the APC has no intention to meddle with the right of lawyers to protest, Nwuke said it was disturbing that seasoned persons who belong to the law profession had allowed suspected thugs to partake in their protest.
He dissociated the APC from the uncharitable act that was committed right in the Court in the middle of proceedings
He recalled that when a similar incident occurred at the Rivers State High Court in May last year the State, spin doctors acting for the opposition heaped the blame for what happened on the APC.
He said that the action of thugs who accompanied the PDP lawyers and the State Chairman of the NBA has completely exonerated the APC from charges that it was responsible for the fiasco in May last year
The full text of the statement issued by the Cole/Giadom Campaign Organisation reads:
We Condemn The Desecration Of The Temple Of Justice By Sponsored Thugs.
Proceedings at the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt were today abruptly disrupted by protesting lawyers who were accompanied by unknown persons believed to be thugs.
Recall that the Court of Appeal had set today as the day for the hearing of a pending matter brought by the APC in Rivers State, urging the judiciary to protect its inalienable right to campaign publicly in compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act.
While we are not against the right of the Nigeria Bar Association to embark on protest, we are alarmed that persons who are not members of the Bar accompanied lawyers led by the NBA Chairman and forcefully embarked on the stoppage of the proceedings of a properly constituted court.
You will recall that the last time a similar incident occurred in May last year, spin doctors working for the opposition placed the blame on the APC.
We are aware that lawyers have been sharply divided over the order issued by the NBA at this time on account of the consequences that such an order would have on the rights of litigants and other court users.
As a political party, we are shocked by the infiltration of the Court Room by the protesting lawyers, serving government officials and thugs. That these men who should have respect for the law stormed a court in session is condemnable.
It is painful that in pursuit of a legitimate end, those who forced their way into the court while it was in session did not demonstrate respect for the rule of law.
We believe that lawyers are seasoned persons who have sworn to respect the rule of law. In upholding the sacred responsibility of the courts and judiciary, particularly in defense of the rule of law, we believe that the right of litigants appearing before properly constituted courts should not be annulled by any person or group of persons.
We wish to state categorically that the Presiding Judge sought for, and achieved the most amiable resolution prior to his courtroom being stormed, by insisting on taking appearances and adjourning all the cases before him.
We are encouraged that the matters that the PDP lawyer and the Chairman of the NBA tried to abort would now be heard with the urgency that they demand tomorrow.
As a campaign organisation which is awaiting justice, it has become necessary to state emphatically that the State Chairman of the NBA was spotted in the company of dangerous thugs believed to have been supplied by the opposition.
Accordingly, we are constrained to bring this matter to the knowledge of the public, the judiciary and members of foreign diplomatic missions.
In the meantime, we urge teeming members of the APC as well as their numerous supporters to remain calm in the face of acts of provocation. We do not intend by any means to resort to self help.
Cole/Giadom Campaign Organisation