A human rights lawyer and activist, Femi Falana, has implored President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on Nigerian Navy for the immediate release of 40 Nigerians who have been in their custody since September 2018.
In a letter on Sunday, the legal luminary condemned the manner in which the individuals were detained by the Navy without being arraigned in court.
Ripples Nigeria had recently reported that Falana had reached out to the attorney general of the federation, Abubakar Malami, to order the Navy to release the detainees who are languishing in their custody.
In his letter to the president on Sunday, Falana, said the “unlawful detention” contravened sections of the 1999 constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Ratification and Enforcement.
“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,” the letter read.
“It may interest Your Excellency to know that the 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 5 of them before a Court Martial.
“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, we urge Your Excellency to direct the Chief 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.
“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.”
Names of the detainees are:
Captain Dada Labinjo,
Lt. Commander Sherifat Ibe Lambert
Master-Melvin Jack ;
Chief Mate-Adebayo Mayoma
Chief Mate- Francis Oneyema
2nd Eng-Godwill Umoh
Elect 2-Edu Fidelis
Elect 2-Richard David
Camp Boss-Daniel Harrison
AB 1-Omogoye Bolaji
AB 2-Victor Uchendu
AB 3-Oloyede Ademola
Oiler-Simon Onyisi Mike
Eng cadet-Udom Victor Jerome
Godwin Etiaka Ojodusi
MV Akemijo Deborah
Umon Godswill Emmanuel
MT Adeline Jumbo
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