Hoodlums injure three in Bayelsa court invasion

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Hoodlums numbering over 30 yesterday disrupted the hearing of a suit on the disputed ward, council and state congresses of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the Bayelsa State High Court.

An official of the court, the claimant, Alex Blackson and his brother, Osom Blackson were injured during the stampede and violence inside the court.

Presiding Judge, Justice Nayai Aganaba, was stoned with plastic bottles by the hoodlums but was taken to safety by his police orderly.

It was gathered that most of the lawyers in court were also chased out, while those that came with the claimant were brutalised.

The suit sought the order of the court to set aside the disputed congresses of the APC held last year.

It was equally gathered that there was shooting at the state secretariat of the APC following the attempts by riot policemen to arrest some chieftains of the party over their alleged involvement in the court invasion.

Two persons were reportedly arrested.

But the chairman of the party in the state, Dr Dennis Otiotio- Odoni distanced members from the court fracas.

He alleged that those involved were suspected supporters of the opposition who were in the courtroom and hanging around the premises.

Describing the incident as one too many, Eradiri called on the state chapter of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) to wake up from its slumber and protect the temple of justice in Bayelsa.

It was gathered that thugs loyal to the two factions of the APC clashed in the court when a matter challenging the party’s congresses came up for hearing.

Eradiri, a former President, Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) recalled that three similar incidents happened in the past with NBA taking no drastic measures to punish the perpetrators.

He said the lack of punitive measures had emboldened recalcitrant individuals to visit judges, lawyers and court officials with violence in a bid to settle their political scores.

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He said: “It is unfortunate that Bayelsa among other states in the country is trying to make violence in the temple of justice a norm. The Wednesday incident in my calculation is the fourth in the series of desecration of the temple of justice in our dear state.

“In each judicial assault, political actors deployed their armed thugs to harass, intimidate and in some cases injure judicial officials as a way of frustrating cases they reasoned would not be in their favour.

“These disgraceful acts have cast serious dent on the judicial image of the state. In the case of Wednesday, we learnt that gunshots were fired. This is demonic, unacceptable and steps must be taken to avert recurrence”.

Eradiri said physical attacks and abuses on courts in Bayelsa had affected the development and practice of the legal profession in the state.

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