A gale of condemnation has greeted Thursday’s invasion of the High Court of Justice, Warri by suspected Itsekiri supporters and sympathisers of the Olu-designate of Warri kingdom, Prince Tsola Emiko.
The Nigerian Bar Association and human rights lawyer, Mr Oghenejabor Ikimi, denounced the invasion as barbaric and contempt of court.
Thugs and women chanting war songs invaded the court where a suit challenging the emergence of Prince Tsola Emiko as Omoba was billed to commence on Thursday.
Son of the immediate past Olu, Ogiame Ikenwoli, Prince Oyowoli Emiko, his uncle, Prince Bernard Emiko and others instituted the suit to challenge the emergence of the 37-year-old son of the Ogiame Atuwatse II (19th Olu) as Olu-designate.
“The court was listening to a case of ex parte motion for service when the pandemonium broke out. A date had not even been taken when the incident occurred and everybody scampered for safety,” a senior lawyer told our reporter.
Hon Justice V. Akpoje, the presiding judge, and Chief Efe Akpofure, SAN, were whisked away to safety by officials of the Department of State Security (DSS) through the backdoor of the Court.
It was gathered that prior to the invasion, Chief Akpofure (SAN), who is counsel to the plaintiff, had raised concerns about possible breach of peace in the premises but was assured by a palace stakeholder, who is also a lawyer.
Warri Branch of NBA expressed shock and sadness at the “unprovoked attack and invasion of the court premises by thugs/hoodlums, which led to the disruption of the Court proceedings in the suit challenging the succession to the stool of Olu of Warri kingdom.”
A statement by the Branch stated: “From reports available to us, the proceedings were going on peacefully until it took a new twist when a crowd of thugs/hoodlums invaded the court, armed with dangerous weapons, and chased away judicial staff, litigants, lawyers, including a SAN, who was representing one of the parties, and disrupted the proceedings.”
Chief Emmanuel O Uti and Joseph Omonoseh, Chairman and Secretary of the association respectively, who signed the statement, said the action of the thugs was barbaric and called on the Inspector General of Police and Commissioner of Police to investigate and unmask the perpetrators.
The lawyers urged security operatives to provide adequate security in and around the court premises in the state to prevent reoccurrence.
Speaking in the same vein, Oghenejabor Ikimi Esq, a human rights lawyer, described the invasion of the High Court as contempt, noting “that is not how to win a legal case.”