More than 100 lawyers, including 20 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), would be assembled to defend Mr. Joachim Chinakwe Iroko, who has been in detention for naming his dog ‘Buhari’.
According to Barr. Inibehe Effiong, convener of the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (COHRD), who disclosed this on Thursday, it was a move against “injustice, tyranny and arbitrariness.”
Also, a similar group has emerged in Abuja declaring that they would ensure that Iroko’s rights are fully protected even if it requires pursuing the case beyond Nigeria’s courts.
The group, led by Mr. Joseph Adamu of the Coalition Against Human Rights Abuse (CAHRA), said it would assemble lawyers that would properly assist those who have begun free judicial representation for Iroko even as the group said it would raise financial assistance if needed.
Iroko was arrested last week for naming his dog ‘Buhari’, which was deemed offensive by some of his neighbours in an area said to be populated with the President’s supporters. The police stepped in to arrest him but set him free immediately. He was later re-arrested in what the Ogun State Police Command termed “an attempt to cause ethno-religious violence.”
Iroko was subsequently charged to court and has failed to raise the cost of the bail bond of N50,000. At the time of this report, he was still in Ibara Prison in Ogun State.
Effiong said, “I wish to inform the public that two spirited members of the public responded to my appeal for assistance to Mr. Joe Chinakwe. The first person donated the sum of N40,000 yesterday while the second donated N50,000 this morning.”
He has launched a social media appeal to first meet the bail bond and the cost of defence.
“Thus a total sum of N90,000 has been donated to settle the legal fees. Recall that I sought N80,000 for this purpose.
“Once again, I wish to reiterate that I am not the counsel to Chinakwe. I have no personal interest whatsoever in the matter.
“My intervention in this case is purely based on my conviction that his arrest, detention and trial is unconstitutional, oppressive and vindictive. We cannot all submit to injustice, tyranny and arbitrariness.
“Anyone that is still in doubt about the political nature of this case should search his inner conscience closely. Those using ethnicity, religion and political sentiments to obfuscate this case should know that Nigeria is a country of laws,” he said.
The rights activist stressed that the human rights community would not sit back and watch innocent citizens being traumatised and dehumanized.
“The fact that the two persons who donated this money are from the North and the South-West, respectively, shows that the bonds of brotherhood and egalitarianism among patriotic Nigerians are superior to the whimsical and repulsive commentaries of ethnic and religious bigots.
“We are currently assembling a team of public interest cum human rights lawyers (we are targeting 100 lawyers or more) for the defence of Chinakwe, pro bono, from the next court sitting if the police insist on going ahead with this case.
“On the request of the wife of Chinakwe, I wish to convey my appreciation to the donors. May God replenish them.
“All things being equal, Chinakwe will be out of the prison custody in the coming hours,” he promised
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