By Kunle Adedoyin
The Benin branch of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) has barred its members from handling cases of kidnapping and armed robbery.
The branch, in a communiqué signed by Collins Ogiegbaen and Pius Oiwoh, its chairman and secretary respectively, said it was withdrawing its services from all suspects whose offences are related to kidnapping as a result of incessant cases of kidnap and attempted kidnap of its members.
It said the prohibition was immediate and would last until otherwise reviewed, adding that any member found flouting the rule will be heavily sanctioned.
“The branch hereby orders the immediate withdrawal of services of all lawyers registered with it from defending persons charged with the grievous and felonious offences of kidnapping and armed robbery,” read the communiqué.
“In this regard and for purposes of emphasis, the branch resolves that all lawyers registered with it are forthwith prohibited from appearing for kidnap suspects, either at the Police station or in any court within the state.
“That this order for the withdrawal of services to persons charged with the aforementioned offences shall be with immediate effect until otherwise reviewed by a subsequent meeting of the branch.
“Consequently, any member of the Bar found flouting the resolution/directive shall be heavily sanctioned accordingly.”
The NBA said it has resolved to write judges of the criminal division of the state to quickly settle cases of kidnapping and robbery before it.
“That the Bar resolves to write to the judges of the criminal division of the high court of the state to dispense speedily with cases of kidnapping and armed robbery pending before them,” it added.
“They are also to formally report to the branch counsel who appears indolent or shows lack of capacity or diligence in prosecuting these cases, including members of the Bar who are fond of filing frivolous applications before the court to delay the speedy hearing and determination of these cases, for sanctions.
“The Bar resolves to inflict maximum sanctions and punishment on state counsel who are found to have compromised their briefs or showed lack of capacity or appeared indolent in the prosecution of persons charged with the heinous crimes of kidnapping and armed robbery.
“And on defence counsel who have formed the habit of aiding criminals through unconventional methods and unlawful means to escape the long arm of justice.”