The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ekiti chapter, on Monday held a protest march in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, against the kidnapping and killing of two lawyers in the state.
One of the victims was a senior member of the association, Adeola Adebayo, while the other, Adesina Okeya, was only called to the bar a week ago.
Mr Okeya was kidnapped in Abuja by unknown gunmen who subsequently killed him.
The late Mr Adebayo, a 33-year-old lawyer, was the Secretary of the Ikole branch of NBA before he was kidnapped on November 17 along Efon-Erio-Aramoko road.
Although a ransom was paid to the kidnappers, his lifeless and already decomposing body was found on December 2.
In a petition addressed to the Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, which was also submitted to the police commissioner, Bello Ahmed, and Director of State Security Services in the state, Precious Ihenacho, the lawyers accused security agencies of complacency towards the incident.
Leading the protest march were the chairmen of the NBA in Ado, Ikere and Ikole NBA branches, Samuel Falade, Oludayo Olorunfemi and Ibrahim Olanrewaju respectively.
Appearing in black attires, the protesters waved placards with inscriptions such as, “Security of Lives and Property is Primary, Provide Security for Nigerians”, “NBA Says no to Kidnapping, Insecurity, Killing”, ‘Lawyers Lives Matter, Save Our Souls”, among others.
“The purpose of government is to provide security for lives and property and where this is not done, the said government is considered to have failed the electorate and constitution it swore to protect,” the petition presented by Mr Olanrewaju read.
“No Nigerian should be subjected to untold economic hardship and still left without security while struggling to make ends meet. As we grieve the loss of our departed member, we use this medium to remind you of your responsibility to citizens and request that all hands must be on deck to forestall reoccurrence in the state.
“The state government is not oblivious of the activities of these deadly killers between Iwaraja and Aramoko Ekiti; but it saddens us that there is an ongoing criminal silence to act despite the sustained kidnapping and killing around the axis.
“We demand immediate deployment of troops to comb the area, arrest and bring to justice those who perpetrated this killing. If this dastardly killing could happen to a lawyer, what do you think will happen to ordinary man. We are all endangered species.”
Addressing the lawyers, the Deputy Governor, Bisi Egbeyemi, urged security chiefs to find the killers and make Ekiti safe for all and sundry.
Mr Egbeyemi said he was personally pained by the gruesome killings of the lawyers who were also indigenes of Ekiti State.
He, however, attributed the recent spate of kidnapping in the state to poor motivation of security agencies in the last four years, noting that the measures put in place by Governor Fayemi during his first tenure were discarded by the last administration.
“We have taken the matter of Adebayo and others very seriously. When the report got to the governor, he arranged for people to go to the place and ordered the Commissioner of Police and the Army to take part in the rescue mission,” Mr Egbeyemi said.
“Apart from that, we are reliably informed that Ikere, Ogbese, Erio, Aramoko, Igbara Odo and Iju had allegedly become dens for suspected kidnappers.
“Notwithstanding, we are going to order policemen and other security agencies to be drafted to those areas and the Obas, as you have rightly said, in those areas would be involved.
“The boy (Adesina Okeya) who was called to the Bar last week, was kidnapped and died thereafter. We have sent to Abuja that the case must be handled seriously and we are not leaving any stone unturned.”
The police commissioner, in his reaction, said the police made efforts to rescue eight out of those kidnapped alongside the deceased, saying the warning given by the deceased’s family that they should tread softly on the matter made the police to soft-pedal on their investigation.
“We expressed our sympathy and condolences to the deceased’s family.” Mr Ahmed said.
“The family asked us to be cautious on this issue when the kidnappers established contact with them and we had to respect their views. You said you paid a ransom, we were not even carried along when the ransom was paid.
“The security of lives is the work of everybody, we are working round the clock. We trekked over 40 kilometres into the bush while searching for him.
“We have made major arrests in the recent bank robbery in Ijero Ekiti where three policemen were killed. We are after others and we will do our best to arrest all these culprits.”