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The Endangered Species: Lawyers Under Threat in Nigeria



Critically Analyzing the Subject: The disturbing allegations made by Douglas Ogbankwa regarding his assault and threat of being shot by State Security Service officers in Benin, Edo City, shed light on a concerning issue plaguing the legal profession in Nigeria. This incident raises eyebrows and demands a thorough examination of the relationship between lawyers and law enforcement agencies in the country.

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In a democratic society governed by the rule of law, lawyers play a pivotal role as advocates for justice, defenders of human rights, and facilitators of due process. They are entrusted with the responsibility of safeguarding the rights and interests of their clients. However, when lawyers become targets of abuse and intimidation by those responsible for upholding the law, it casts a shadow on the foundations of justice.

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The right of a lawyer to be present during their client’s interrogation is a fundamental aspect of the legal process. It ensures transparency, protects against potential abuses, and upholds the principles of fair and just proceedings. Assaulting a lawyer and threatening to use lethal force violates their rights and undermines the integrity of the entire legal system.

This incident is not an isolated case. It highlights a broader trend of hostility and intolerance some law enforcement agents exhibit towards lawyers in performing their duties. Lawyers should be respected and allowed to fulfil their professional obligations without fear of harassment or harm. Their presence does not impede investigations when they act within the boundaries of the law.

Immediate action must be taken to address this alarming trend. The Director General of the State Security Service and the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation must initiate a comprehensive investigation into Mr Ogbankwa’s complaint. Those responsible for the assault and threats should be held accountable for their actions to ensure justice is served.

In conclusion, the incident involving Douglas Ogbankwa serves as a stark reminder that lawyers in Nigeria face increasing risks and challenges in their work. Upholding the rule of law and protecting the rights of lawyers are essential to maintaining a just and democratic society. The legal community, civil society, and relevant authorities must work together to ensure that lawyers can practice their profession with dignity, respect, and without fear.

By: Mazi Afam Osigwe SAN

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