…Say Police Action is Irresponsible, Unconstitutional, Contempt of Court …Want Her Charged to Court …Demand End to Predatory Policing Strategy …115 Persons Killed in Southeast in 4 Months…Amnesty International …Amnesty is Supporting IPOB’s Terrorism Campaign…Presidency Over 23 civil society organisations (CSOs) and other stakeholders, have strongly called on the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, to
…Say Police Action is Irresponsible, Unconstitutional, Contempt of Court
…Want Her Charged to Court
…Demand End to Predatory Policing Strategy
…115 Persons Killed in Southeast in 4 Months…Amnesty International
…Amnesty is Supporting IPOB’s Terrorism Campaign…Presidency
Over 23 civil society organisations (CSOs) and other stakeholders, have strongly called on the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, to prevail on the Inspector General of Police, Mr Usman Baba and his officers, who have been accused of large scale violations of human rights, torture of suspects and extra judicial killings, to release Ms Gloria Okolie, who was arrested allegedly over links to the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) 100 days ago.
This is coming in the backdrop of a recent report by global human rights campaign organisation, Amnesty International that 115 persons were killed by security forces in a spate of four months in Southeast Nigeria.
“Nigerian security forces have committed a catalogue of human rights violations and crimes under international law in their response to spiralling violence in Southeast Nigeria, carrying out a repressive campaign since January which has included sweeping mass arrests, excessive and unlawful force, and torture and other ill-treatment,” Amnesty International maintained.
“The evidence gathered by Amnesty International paints a damning picture of ruthless excessive force by Nigerian security forces in Imo, Anambra and Abia states,” said Osai Ojigho, the organisation’s Nigerian Country Director.
The CSOs slammed the continued detention of Okolie after a court had ordered that the Police should either release the suspect on bail or charge her to court.
The groups also described the act of the security outfit as irresponsible, unconstitutional and contempt of court.
While pleading for restraint in handling matters concerning young persons, the CSOs reminded the security forces that, “All young people in Imo State are certainly not IPOB/ESN members, and the Police should not continue to act on that premise or continue to turn the ‘war’ against IPOB into a war against the youth in Imo State or an opportunity to oppress and prey on residents of the State.”
The Police had arrested and detained the 21 year-old woman since June for allegedly spying for IPOB and its militia arm, the Eastern Security Network (ESN).
Her family had claimed that she was used as a maid and sex slave by the officers while in custody.
The Open Letter to the Vice President, titled, “Re: Continued Indefinite Detention of Gloria Okolie by the Nigeria Police and Police’s Flagrant Disobedience to Court Orders to Release Her or Charge Her to Court,” reads in parts:
“We, the undersigned human rights and civil society organizations in Nigeria, write to you most respectfully regarding Gloria Okolie, a 21-year-old female (undergraduate/trader) and native of Imo State who has been in Police detention for over 100 days.
“Gloria was arrested on June 17, 2021 and detained secretly by the Inspector-General of Police’s Intelligence Response Team (IRT) at their Tiger Base office in Owerri, Imo State, before she was transferred to the Abuja headquarters of IRT.
“For 100 days, the Police has continued to stubbornly and contemptuously detain Gloria in defiance of several legitimate efforts to release her, including a court order on the Police to release her on bail or immediately charge her to court, repeated pleas and efforts by her parents and family members to secure her bail, civil society demands for her release on the ground of her constitutional rights under Nigeria’s 1999 constitution as well as public outcry and media reports and critical commentaries over her continued detention by the Police in flagrant violation of the law.
“Your Excellency, for weeks, Gloria’s parents and relatives searched for their daughter, running from community to community, hospitals to morgues, Police station to Police station, and churches, in search of any lead until her whereabouts was eventually disclosed by a commercial motorcyclist who was arrested alongside with Gloria two weeks earlier. This Good Samaritan traced Gloria’s family to inform them of the location of their daughter.
“The Police issued a belated and face-saving statement through their public relations unit claiming that Gloria was a spy girl for IPOB/ESN. This was in response to public outrage, after they had kept her in custody for 70 days without charging her to court as required by law and causing her and her parents and community serious heartache and trauma.
“Your Excellency, which parents would sleep as much as with one eye while their daughter is missing! Even after confirming that your daughter is with the Police, which parent will be at ease not having access to her, not knowing her state of health, not being able to hold her and support her and reassure her that all will be well?
“Your excellency, for the 100 days in unlawful detention, the IRT has stripped Gloria of every fundamental right guaranteed under the Nigeria constitution, 1999.
“The right to a speedy trial. Right to legal representation. Presumption of innocence until convicted by a competent court. For 100 days, Gloria has been denied access to her family. She has been denied access to a lawyer.
“With the conduct of the IRT, it is fair to conclude that the Police has already convicted Gloria even without a trial. They have deliberately and consistently kept Gloria incommunicado.
“The Police has also continued to conduct itself with impunity despite public outcry and repeated civil society calls for Gloria’s unconditional release or immediate prosecution. Not even a court order to the Police, secured on behalf of Gloria.
“Instead, the Police has continued to stubbornly and contemptuously disregard the court order several weeks after the court’s deadline for her arraignment in court or release.
“Your Excellency, public safety is seriously imperiled when the Police, as the primary law enforcement agency, constitutes itself into the despicable role of chief lawbreaker while the authorities look away.
“For decades, the Police has remained a notorious institutional violator of human rights. Unfortunately, this culture carried over from colonial rule, through military rule now constitutes a major threat to our nascent democracy.
“Several writings on the growth of insecurity have also underscored the threats posed by Police impunity to democracy and public safety.
“Your Excellency, you will recall the youth-led #EndSARS protest that shook the nation to its foundation in response to the excesses of the rogue Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS), the consequent vandalization of public properties, and the tragic incident of 20/10/2020 at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos that claimed many innocent lives of young people.
“The horrors and pains of that incident remain fresh in the hearts of many locally and internationally. But the protest and the outcry exemplify the ever-present danger an unaccountable Police poses to the people and government.
“As a people and a fledgling democracy, we can ill afford a rogue, unaccountable and irresponsible Police that continues to revel in impunity while sowing more hatred and distrust for the Police as an institution among Nigerians.”
The groups stated that, “The continuing detention of Gloria without bail or charge should concern you and every Nigerian genuinely concerned about the rule of law.
“Therefore, haven exhaustively engaged the Police authorities unsuccessfully, we are writing to you as a father, a Pastor and the Vice President of the country to kindly use your good offices to intervene in the continuing detention of Gloria by the Police and help bring an end to the trauma and plight of her parents, family, and community.
“May we also inform you that in a vengeful move, the Police had to lure back to the station the commercial motorcyclist that revealed Gloria’s whereabouts to her parents, re-arrested and mercilessly brutalized him, and his whereabouts remain unknown till date.
“This is a reprisal for disclosing that Gloria and other detainees have been secretly held in IRT custody in Owerri, Imo State. Therefore, the Police must be made to account for his whereabouts.
“It is also important to order an end to the predatory policing strategy ongoing in Imo State and to order an independent investigation into the fate and/or whereabouts of several other young people randomly picked up and taken away by the Police in Imo State by IRT and other units in the pretext of searching for IPOB/ESN members.”
“All young people in Imo State are certainly not all IPOB/ESN members, and the Police should not continue to act on that premise or continue to turn the ‘war’ against IPOB into a war against the youth in Imo State or an opportunity to oppress and prey on residents of the State,” the letter concluded.
Among the organisations which signed the letter are One Love Foundation, Space for Change, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development (FENRAD Nigeria), International Peace and Civic Responsibility Centre (IPCRC), Human Rights Social Development and Evironmental Foundation (HURSDEF) and Public Enlightenment Project (PEP)
Others include Citizens’ Solution Network, Centre for Community Empowerment and Poverty Eradication (CCEPE), Dinidari Foundation, Agape Care Initiative, Centre for Impact Advocacy, Youth Initiative Against Violence and Human Rights Abuse (YIAVHA), Dorothy Njemanze Foundation (DNF), FEMBUD, The Interactive Initiative for Social Impact, Tap Initiative and Human Rights Defenders (HURIDE), Anambra State Chapter.
The signatories also include: Lex Initiative for Rights Advocacy and Development (LIRAD), Centre Against Injustice and Domestic Violence (CAIDOV), Human Rights Advocacy and Monitoring Group (HURAMG), Confluence of Rights and Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR).
Police Kills IPOB Commander
Meanwhile, in a related development, the Imo Police Command has shot dead the suspected IPOB/ESN Sector Commander, Mr Chidera Nnabuhe during a gun duel in Amaifeke Orlu Local Government Area.
Nnabuihe aka Dragon, the Orlu sector commander, was killed with two other members of the group when the command’s tactical team stormed their hideout in an uncompleted building in a valley at Essential Home popularly known as ”NGBUKA” in Amaifeke Orlu LGA of Imo State.
Imo Police Spokesman, CSP Michael Abattam, who confirmed the incident, claimed the IPOB/ESN members were planning to resume terror attacks on Police formations and government installations in the State when intelligence radar picked the information.
He said: “On 11/9/2021 at about 1230 hours, the command’s tactical teams immediately mobilised and stormed the hideout of the terror group located in an uncompleted building in a valley at Essential Home popularly known as ” NGBUKA” in Amaifeke Orlu LGA of Imo State.
“The members of the terror group on sighting the Police operatives in their hideout opened fire on them. The gallant and battle-ready tactical teams swiftly returned the fire. In the gun duel, three of the hoodlums namely Chidera Nnabuhe, the Orlu Sector Commander of IPOB/ ESN a.k.a “DRAGON”, a native of Umuala Amaifeke in Orlu LGA and two others with a.k.a, J.J and Dadawa both natives of Ohazara in Ebonyi state were neutralised.”
He however said Emeka Sunday, 20, of Anike in Ohazara LGA of Ebonyi State and Anthony Okeke 44, of Umuala Amaifeke Orlu LGA of Imo were arrested while others escaped into the bush with bullet wounds.
Presidency Blasts Amnesty International
The Presidency barely few days ago, blasted Amnesty International for allegedly supporting the IPOB which it accused of stockpiling substantial weapons and bombs across the country.
This was contained in a statement issued by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu in response to what it called Amnesty International’s latest salvo at Nigeria.
The statement said while the global rights group did not say anything new, it has decided to side with “terrorists.”
The statement read in part: “Again, they have decided to side with terrorists, before the liberty of those they injure, displace and murder. Speaking the language of universal human rights, Amnesty International deploys it only in defence – even outright promotion – of those that violently oppose the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“Parroting the line of Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB, a proscribed terror organisation, they work to legitimise its cause to Western audiences. This puts them in bad company.
“Controversial American lobbyists are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to do the same, laundering IPOB’s reputation in Washington DC. IPOB murder Nigerian citizens. They kill police officers and military personnel and set government property on fire.
“Now, they have amassed a substantial stockpile of weapons and bombs across the country. Were this group in a western country, you would not expect to hear Amnesty’s full-throated defence of their actions. Instead, there would be silence or mealy-mouthed justification of western governments’ action to check the spread of ‘terrorism.
“Despite Amnesty’s self-proclaimed mandate to impartially transcend borders, unfortunately in Nigeria, they play only domestic politics. The international NGO is being used as cover for the organisation’s local leaders to pursue their self-interests.
“Regrettably, this is not uncommon in Africa. There is nothing wrong with an activist stance; there are claims of neutrality when all facts point to the opposite.
“Amnesty International has no legal right to exist in Nigeria. It must open a formal investigation into the personnel that occupy their Nigerian offices. They should reject the outrageously tendentious misinformation they receive and bring some semblance of due diligence to the sources they base their claims on. Currently, we see none.
“The Nigerian government will fight terrorism with all the means at its disposal. We will ignore Amnesty’s ranting especially when it comes from an organisation that does not hold itself to the same standards it demands of others,” Shehu said.