Scores of Nigerian citizens marked the first 100 days in office of President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term in police and military detention facilities across the country.
These citizens, according to the National Chairman, Peoples Alternative Forum, Femi Falana, (SAN), were victims of the indiscriminate arrests and illegal detentions by the police and other security agencies.
Falana, in a press statement that was made available to THISDAY, claimed that “while conducting raids in Abuja and other cities in the country, thousands of women and unemployed young people are arrested by the police for wandering even though the vagrancy law was abolished in Nigeria in 1989.”
He alleged that illegal incarceration of innocent Nigerians had become the order of the day in spite of President Buhari’s administration official declaration to respect the human rights of Nigerian people.
Prominent among the Nigerian citizens languishing in prison, according to Falana, were Publisher of Sahara Reporters Omoyele Sowere; a Journalist, Agba Jalingo; Navy Captain Dada Labinjo.
Sowore was accused of treason, treasonable felony and terrorism for planning a protest against insecurity, poverty, and unemployment in the country. He is yet to be charged with any offence rather the Directorate of State Service (DSS) secured an ex-parte order from the Federal High Court to detain him for 45 days.
Similarly, Jalingo, was arrested in Calabar, Cross River State, last month by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) that filed a terrorism charge against him at the Federal High Court for criticising Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade, in a newspaper article. The NPF has secured an order from the court to detain him for 14 days even though Jalingo has not arraigned.
“The Nigerian Navy has continued to detain over 150 citizens for several months without trial for undisclosed criminal offences. While some of the detainees have recently been released not less than 67 others are still held incommunicado in Lagos. Specifically, 10 of the detainees are held inside a vessel in Lagos while 57 others are detained in the NNS Beecroft Cell, Apapa, Lagos,” Falana alleged.
Falana also alleged: “We have also confirmed that Navy Captain Dada Labinjo is still being detained at an underground cell in the Directorate of Defence Intelligence, Abuja, in defiance of the judgment of the Federal High Court, which has declared his detention illegal and unconstitutional while the Swiss government has sued the Federal Government in Zurick over the detention of four Ukraine nationals for about two years without trial.”
He also drew a list of 67 names allegedly under unlawful detention. Some of the names on the list are Michael Ovie; Simon Onyisike Mike; Umoren Daniel; James Archibong; Graham Brown; Ifeanyi Osadinizu; Matthew Epiagolo; Taiwo Ayodele; Sunday Ojo and Austin Omonisa among others.
Falana referred to the annual conference of the Nigerian Bar Association, which was held in Lagos last month where President Buhari restated the commitment of his administration to operate under the Rule of Law, and tasked President Buhari that “based on such commitment the federal government should comply with all court orders and direct the police and other security agencies to grant bail to criminal suspects or arraign them in courts if there is reasonable suspicion that they have committed any criminal offence. As the Buhari administration moves to the “next level” the National Human Rights Commission which was dissolved in 2015 should be reconstituted without any further delay.