The Nigerian Bar Association, Owerri, condemns the action of the Imo State Government in the arrest and detention of Messrs. Chima Emeka Ndukwe, Akoma Jeremiah, Ikedi Amadi and Nze Moses, senior staff of the National Industrial Court, Owerri, who the Bar gathers, were arrested and taken to an undisclosed location at about 14:30hrs yesterday, Friday the 3rd day of June, 2022, while on official duty.
These Staff were arrested by the legion of Policemen and savage thugs led by a Personal Assistant to the Imo State Governor, one Chinasa Nwaneri, to unseal Zenith Bank Plc, having obtained an Order from Owerri High Court (Court of coordinate jurisdiction) same day.
The Bar further gathers that upon an order of the National Industrial Court, Owerri, on Thursday the 2nd day of June, 2022, Zenith Bank Plc was sealed for refusal to obey the judgment of the National Industrial Court, Owerri, where-in the court ordered the Bank to pay the Judgment Creditor, *Prince Eze Madumere,* the sum of *₦1.9 Billion Naira,* being money owed him by Imo State Government.
Rather than challenge same judgment in the Court of Appeal, the Imo State Government, in a desperate hurry, obtained a Court Order from a High Court sitting in Owerri (a court of coordinate jurisdiction) restraining Zenith Bank Plc from obeying the Judgment of the National Industrial Court, Owerri. In a manner most brutish and saddening reminiscent of the Stone Age, the said Mr. Nwaneri, armed with the Order of the High Court, led a legion of heavily armed policemen and fierce-looking thugs to unseal the Bank, and in the process brutalized and arrested the said Court Officials, who while on official duty, stopped by the Bank to inquire the reason for the heavy presence of security men and thugs in a Bank sealed by a subsisting Order of their court.
We therefore register our collective disaffection with the role played by the State Government, its agents, and the Court, who assumed appellate jurisdiction over a judgment delivered by another court of coordinate jurisdiction, in a manner that ridicules the sacred tenet of court hierarchy, disparages our judicial system, mocks the principles of rule of law and scorns our noble legal profession.
We therefore call on the State Government to cause the immediate and unconditional release of the detained staff of the Court and their official vehicle before 12:00hrs today Saturday the 4th day of June, 2022.
While the Bar vigilantly engages the concerned authorities to ensure the safety of the other Staff of the Court, the Bar entreats the President of the National Industrial Court to reconsider the order of temporary closure of the National Industrial Court, Owerri, as this shall further afflict the practice of our profession already beset by the heightening spate of insecurity in the State and inhibit access to justice by innocent litigants.