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Public Statement: Nigeria (May 2019)

The Law Society of Ontario expresses grave concern about the murder of lawyer Promise Frank Igwe

Toronto, ON — The Law Society of Ontario expresses grave concern about the murder of lawyer Promise Frank Igwe.
Promise Frank Igwe was a lawyer from Ogbakri in Emohua Local Government Area (LGA). Credible reports state that, in the morning of April 12, 2019, he was shot and killed by an unidentified individual or individuals in Ozuobu community in Obio/Akpor LGA of Rivers State.
Reports state that, according to a witness to the incident, an unidentified person possibly posing as a prospective client had called Promise Frank Igwe for a meeting at a bar. When Mr. Igwe arrived, he called the individual who had allegedly invited him to the bar to notify the individual of his arrival. According to reports, the witness also stated that Mr. Igwe had ordered a drink and food before he was shot. We understand that the Police in Rivers, Nnamdi Omoni have launched an investigation into his murder.
The President of the Nigerian Bar Association has condemned the murder of Promise Frank Igwe. The Bar President has also called upon Nigerian authorities to ensure that perpetrators of violence do not murder with impunity in order to protect lives and promote safety in the context of an increasing surge in violent crimes throughout Nigeria.
The Law Society has previously intervened on behalf of lawyer Adeola Adebayo who was kidnapped and murdered at the Iwaraja-Efon axis of Ekiti state in late 2018. In our intervention letter dated February 2019, we have expressed our concerns regarding the murder of Mr. Adebayo as a result of his work as a lawyer as well as the pervasive state of insecurity and violent crime in Ekiti State and the surrounding region.
The Law Society is very concerned by credible reports of Promise Frank Igwe’s death and strongly condemns the murder of Mr. Igwe. We urge Nigeria to comply with its obligations under international human rights laws, including the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Article 16 of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers states:
Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.
Article 17 states:
Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.
Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
The Law Society urges the Government of Nigeria to:

  1. put an end to all acts of violence against lawyers and members of the Nigerian Bar Association in Nigeria;
  2. ensure that all lawyers in Nigeria are adequately safeguarded by the authorities such that they are able to carry out their professional duties and activities free from intimidation, hindrance, harassment, improper interference, the threat of criminalization or other human rights violations; and
  3. ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments.
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