By CHARLES IWUOHA
Legal practitioners in the Ebonyi State judiciary on Saturday, December 5, 2020 alleged that they were coerced by a prominent member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to sign a communiqué against the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Pius Anyim.
News Express reports that some lawyers under the aegis of “Ebonyi Concerned Lawyers’ Forum” on Friday had signed a communiqué, berating the former SGF for engaging in a war of words with the Governor Dave Umahi.
The communiqué reads in part: “That as lawyers and Colleagues, we are still in search of the impact which Senator Anyim Pius Anyim has made in our State even after holding the highest Political Position in the South East since the advent of the nascent democracy in Nigeria.
“That we view the open letter written and circulated in the media by Senator Anyim Pius Anyim as not only defamatory of our State as a whole but as a precursor to engendering crisis reminiscent of the type generated during His Excellency, Senator Dr. Sam Ominyi Egwu’s Administration which led to unprecedented loss of lives and property in the State,” it stated.
But some lawyers who later spoke to newsmen denied of signing the communiqué while few others alleged that they were coerced to sign it.
One of the lawyers who spoke anonymously said: “We were called to meet the Attorney General of the state. On getting there, the topic got switched over into supporting the Governor under the aegis of “Ebonyi Concerned Lawyers’ Forum”.
“I refused writing my name as one of the signatories and honourably walked away while so many others were lobbied and even coerced to sign a Communiqué against Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, the former Senate President of Nigeria and SGF,” he stated.
Another lawyer who gave her name as Hannah Ejeh said: “We were tricked into this. I was eating at the high court when fellow lawyer came and collected our names said that the A.G is inviting us.
“Please, discountenance this, most of us left at the venue without even cancelling our names in the list on hearing what the invitation was all about,” she stated.
One of them who spoke to newsmen in Abakaliki on animity said: “God knows that my mind wasn’t there, coming to protest against someone who has done us nothing. I wouldn’t have done so ordinarily. But let’s leave it for God, Dave will soon see what he is looking for.”
In a swift reaction, the attorney general and commissioner for Justice, Ebonyi State, Mr Cletus Ofoke, had denied knowledge of speaking with any lawyer to sign communiqué berating the former SGF Senator Pius Anyim.
He tasked the citizens of the state to discountenance such allegations adding that it is a handiwork of the enemies of the state.
According to him, “how can you be talking like that, that I lobbied them (lawyers) to sign communiqué. What is my business with lawyers? I was at the court session yesterday or didn’t you see me?
“How can someone be telling you such story? Who is the lawyer or lawyers that are saying that? Please disregard such allegations and don’t drag me into such thing. I don’t know what they are talking about.”