A human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to order the release of 40 Nigerians in the detention of the Nigerian Navy.
In a letter addressed to Buhari, the senior lawyer alleged that the detainees have been held incommunicado in dehumanising conditions for periods ranging from six to eight months without trial, adding that he had received complaints from their families over their continued detention.
Falana’s letter, which was addressed to the president and dated May 19, was titled: “Request for Release of 40 Nigerian Citizens from Illegal Custody of Nigerian Navy”.
Falana urged President Buhari to direct the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, to either release the detainees from unlawful custody or arraign them in court without any further delay.
He said this has become expedient since all the detainees are entitled to their fundamental rights to dignity and liberty guaranteed by sections 34 and 35 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended and articles 5 and 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Ratification and Enforcement Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
He gave the names of the detainees as Captain Dada Labinjo, Lt. Commander Sherifat Ibe Lambert, Benjamin Gold, Peter Pulle, Pius Paul, Onoja Reuben, Adeleke Adewale, Labinjo Kehinde, Ogunmoyero Oluwasehun, Emmanuel Oputa, Innocent Sunday, Lejoro Friday, Hamza Yakubu, Segun Yusuf, Master-Melvin Jack ; Chief Mate-Adebayo Mayoma, Chief Mate- Francis Oneyema, Godwill Umoh, Bosin-Miebaka Iyala and Edu Fidelis.
Others are Richard David, Daniel Harrison, Asaiki Okeoghene, Omogoye Bolaji, Victor Uchendu, Oloyede Ademola, Oiler-Simon Onyisi Mike, Udom Victor Jerome, Godwin Etiaka Ojodusi, Sixtus Ganabel, Owei Ukuto, Jeremiah Victor, Collins Joel, Augustine Omonisa, MV Akemijo Deborah, Mike Simeon, Umoren Daniel, James Archibong, Umon Godswill Emmanuel and MT Adeline Jumbo.
“In view of the fact that the illegal detention of the 40 Nigerian citizens for several months without trial has exposed the federal government to unwarranted embarrassment the Chief of Naval Staff ought to be sanctioned by Your Excellency,” Falana told the president.
“We have received complaints from the family members of 40 Nigerian citizens who are being detained without trial on the orders of the authorities of the Nigerian Navy.
“It may interest Your Excellency to know that the above-named detainees have been held incommunicado in dehumanising conditions for periods ranging from six to eight months. In fact, some of the detainees are incarcerated in an underground military detention facility in Abuja while others are held inside one of the vessels impounded by the Nigerian Navy in Marina, Lagos.
“The detainees have been subjected to mental, psychological and physical torture contrary to the provisions of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017.
“Furthermore, in utter contempt of court the authorities of the Nigerian Navy have defied valid and subsisting orders of competent courts for the unconditional release of some of the detainees.
“Apart from such contemptuous conduct, the Nigerian Navy recently denied knowledge of the whereabouts of the 15 detainees held in a detention facility in Abuja.
“As soon as we pointed out that the remand order procured by the Nigerian Navy for the detention of the 15 detainees had been quashed by the Chief Magistrate Court in Apapa, Lagos State, the Naval Authorities turned round to file criminal charges against five of them before a court-martial,” Falana explained.