Leading Lagos lawyer Olumide Akpata has asked the Nigeria Bar Association to intervene in the case of Emperor Ogbonna, a lawyer who was arrested by the Abia government for cybercrimes and allegedly defaming the state governor Okezie Ikpezu.
In a post on the social media platform Twitter, Mr Akpata, an influential lawyer who once chaired the NBA’s Section on Business Law asked the NBA to investigate the circumstances surrounding the re-arrest of Mr Ogbonna after the accused had been released from the Correctional Centre after meeting his bail conditions.
Akpata said: “I have just come online to read the disturbing reports about the rearrest of an Aba-based legal practitioner, Mr. Emperor Ogbonna allegedly by men of the State Security Services after he was granted bail by the Federal High Court sitting in Umuahia, Abia State.
“Reports reaching me suggest that Mr. Ogbonna was originally arrested and charged before the Federal High Court, Umuahia on grounds bordering on cyber crime arising from a Facebook post from his account on 20 March 2020.
“I also understand that he had already spent thirty-five days at the Correctional Centre in Umuahia, Abia State and was subsequently granted bail which he duly perfected today before his unfortunate rearrest.
“It is not clear at this time on what basis or charges Mr. Ogbonna was rearrested nor can anyone confirm his current state and well-being.
“The story is all the more troubling because of the reported involvement of the Chief of Staff to the Abia State Government, Dr A. C. B. Agbazuere who is a legal practitioner and until his appointment, a law lecturer at the Faculty of Law, Abia State University.
“I use this medium to call on the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association to use their good offices to ensure the immediate release of Mr. Ogbonna or at the very least intervene to ensure the respect of the fundamental rights of Mr. Emperor Ogbonna as guaranteed by the extant provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
“I must also note that the relatively modern trend of disaggregation of charges against defendants simply for the purposes of effecting their rearrest by security agencies after being duly granted bail by courts of competent jurisdiction and after perfecting the bail conditions is at best tacky and at worst an unconstitutional affront on the judicial arm of government. At this trying time, this is the last thing that this country needs.”