General News

Ebonyi Police arrest ‘fake’ lawyer

Samuel Amah-Ugbor, Abakaliki

Access Bank

The Police in Ebonyi, on Wednesday, arrested a man who claimed he was a lawyer.

A reliable source from the Ebonyi State Police Command told our Correspondent that the suspect was stopped at a checkpoint manned by members of the Car/Sticker team of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Abakaliki Branch, at the Union Bank Junction Abakaliki, on Wednesday, and questioned over who had the car he was driving, which had NBA stickers on it.

According to the source, who pleaded anonymity, on interrogation by the NBA Car/Sticker taskforce, he sped off with one of the lawyers who had hopped into his car for further inquiries

When trailed and found, Police operatives were said to have arrested him when he was allegedly videoing and taking shots of the taskforce member with his Android phone and threatening to kill him and his members.

Narrating the incident to journalists, on Wednesday, in Abakaliki, the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Abakaliki Branch, Barr Okorie Ogbonna, said the suspect commited a crime by claiming to be a lawyer, while he was not. He also accused the suspect of kidnapping one of his members.

According to him, “In our branch or even at the national Secretariat, we have a unit that checks and monitors the use of NBA stickers by non lawyers and we work with the federal and state governments to enforce this. And in Abakaliki Branch, we have a committee called the NBA Car/Sticker Committee. This Committee monitors the fraudulent use of NBA stickers, beards and gowns.

“What necessitated this was the unwarranted use of the NBA stickers by some motorists, who impersonate legal practitioners. Recently, we had a case of a vehicle with the NBA sticker, that brought arms and ammunition into the state. And we said we don’t like it and cannot fold our hands and watch people infiltrate the profession and destroy its image.”

“Like today’s (Wednesday) morning, the Committee members were on duty. Some people were intercepted and interrogated. Many of them convinced the Committee that they were legal practitioners or their spouses were legal practitioners and they were allowed to go.

“But there was an instant case of a motorist, who refused to entertain our questions and even speed off with our member in his car, inside a place. We had to inform the Commissioner of Police, in the state, who detailed the A-Unit or a detachement of Police men, who came and got him arrested. That was a clear case of kidnapping and that’s double offence.”

Also speaking, the Chairman of the NBA Car/Sticker Taskforce, Barr Sampson Ekigbo, noted that the suspect threatened to kill him and his team members, wondering why enforcing a lawful order was a crime.

Barr Ekigbo said, “This man is a man of double speak and he is criminally-ninded the way he talks and behaves. When we stopped him at the Union Bank Junction this morning, he told us he was from Ngbo, in the Ohaukwu Local Government Area of the state. Now, in the Police Station, after he tried to kidnap one of us, he is saying he is from Anambra State. Let him go to the court and prove it.”

The suspect, Mr Uduonu Chijioke, who later claimed to be a teacher at Bethel Comprehensive Secondary School, Abakaliki, said he drove off with one of the taskforce members in his car, because he felt they were kidnappers, alleging they wore nothing that indicated they were on a stop-and-search assignment.

He said, “I am from Anambra State and I work here in Ebonyi State as a teacher and I’m also a lecturer at Enugu State College of Education. I was going to work (Bethel Comprehensive Secondary School, where I teach), this morning at about 7.55am, and I was stopped by some persons and they were not in Police uniform or that of the any of the sister agencies.

“There was no means of identification and they first asked me who I was, if I were a lawyer; and I told them I was not. They asked me about the NBA sticker on my car, I told them the car was my father’s. And immediately one of them entered into my car and immediately, I drove off. We got to the school where I teach and I went into my office and signed-in, in the attendance register.

“Later, two of his (the man that got into my car) colleagues arrived the school with some Police men, who got me arrested. There was never a time I threatened them to kill them. I only used my Android and snap them for reference.”

The Police Public Relations Officer, in the state, Mrs Loveth Odah, said she would get back to our Correspondent after verifying with the Divisional Police Officer of Central Police Station, Abakaliki, which led the operation.

She was yet to do so as of the time of filing this report.

Also, the Commissioner of Police, Mr Aliyu Garba, didn’t pick call by our Correspondent calls and was yet to respond to messages sent to his mobile, as of the time of filing this report.

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