The utter abuse of Olakunle Karimu’s human rights and dignity in the video currently in circulation is very condemnable. Little by little, this police brutality and abuse of young lawyers have continued to grow to unprecedented proportion because the NBA has not done anything about it. This particular incident clearly has all the elements of the cancer of abuse, disrespect, indignity, dehumanization, and demeaning conduct that thrives in some law firms in Nigeria.
I personally remember that as far back as 30th August 2016, Professor Ernest Ojukwu called on the then new administration of the NBA to set employment rules for the NBA. He said
“One thing we cannot afford to continue to paper over is the way Young Lawyers are treated in our Law Firms. Many young lawyers are treated shabbily and paid very poorly. The Bar must set employment rules for law firms and a mandatory minimum salary must be prescribed and enforced. No Ostrich games anymore”
As recent as 16th April this year he said this abuse is “tantamount to fundamental abuse on one’s dignity” (http://thenigerialawyer.com/peanuts-paid-to-young-lawyers-an-abuse-on-their-dignity-prof-ernest-ojukwu/). He has used every opportunity to insist on this. He echoed this again in the interview he granted to the This Day Newspaper on 3rd July 2018.
Because of inaction, it has degenerated to the level where Police officers are called in to brutalise a lawyer in a law firm over an issue of terms of employment and wage.
This is bad. This raises the second critical issue. So Police Officers can now easily raise their hands to beat up Lawyers at will???
Ernest Ojukwu also predicted this particular degeneration. As far back as last year, he wrote a letter (Published on http://thenigerialawyer.com/police-harrassment-of-lawyers-teacher-prof-ojukwu-san-writes-nba-president/) where he petitioned the NBA about the brutalization of lawyers by police all over the country. He said that if not addressed, such police conduct will lead to “Destruction of the Integrity and independence of the Bar; and the Rule of Law, respect for enforcement of fundamental rights, human rights/people’s rights – two major objectives the Bar has sworn to promote and protect”. He has continued to warn and warn about this.
Forget about politics, there is a reason why I support Ernest Ojukwu to be NBA President. I am sure that when he becomes the president this kind of infra dig, dehumanizing, degrading incidence will no longer be the norm. I am very sure that the bar will become active again.
We must address these things.
We must do so now.
By Ugochukwu Njoku, Esq.