Law News
Pregnant lawyer, others escape death as thugs sack court

No fewer than 17 lawyers including a pregnant woman and two Senior Advocates of Nigeria on Monday escaped death from a stampede caused by armed thugs who invaded the Federal High Court in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.

The hoodlums had invaded the court over the suit between Senator Heineken Lokpobiri and Dr. Foster Ogola over the choice of candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the Bayelsa West senatorial district.

According to an eyewitness, the thugs arrived the Federal High Court premises, located along Capt.Amangala Road, about 10am over a purported sitting of the court and attempt by the Judge, Justice I.E.Ekwo, to deliver judgement on the dispute.

The court was to hear a matter brought to it by the senator representing Bayelsa West, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, seeking the substitution of the name of the PDP candidate, Dr. Foster Ogola with his own name.

During the PDP primaries in the state, Lokpobiri and Ogola had emerged victorious in two different primaries conducted in Sagbama Local Government Area of the state.

Not satisfied with the submission of Ogola name as the candidate, Lokpobiri had to head for the Federal High Court in the state to seek redress.

Lawyers, who escaped from the court premises, included the state Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Tony Okorodas.

Okorodas told journalists that the thugs upturned chairs within the court room and caused a stampede with judge and lawyers scampering for safety.

The eyewitness said it took the deployment of riot policemen to calm down frayed nerves.

The Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Asnim Butswat, confirmed the incident.

“Yes, some group of boys, attacked the court and vandalised the windows and chairs in the court. I am not aware of shooting of guns but before our men deployed to the scene could arrived, they escaped,” he said.

But counsel for Senator Lokpobiri, Selekeowei Larry (SAN), said that the thugs were led into the court premises by the state Governor, Seriake Dickson.

Larry said that the attack on the court, which he claimed was led by the governor, was a shameful act and a show of intimidation against the judiciary.

But Dickson, in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Markson-Iworiso, frowned on the alleged use of force by Senator Heineken Lokpobiri to secure the PDP ticket for the Bayelsa West senatorial district, with misleading information and outright forgery of party documents.

Dickson warned that the government would deal decisively with anybody or group of persons, no matter how highly placed, that took the law into their hands.

“Reports have it that supporters of Foster Ogola were irked when the judge, who had earlier been petitioned over his lopsided handling of the matter, went ahead to fix hearing and judgement for today, without proper notification to both parties,” he said.

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