(Intersociety, Onitsha Nigeria, 15th January 2017)-The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety) is deeply pained as it concerns Nigeria’s steady sink to lawlessness and governance brigandage. Nigeria’s justice and liberty governance and ethics have been so damaged that their recovery from the catastrophic damage is practically a difficult task.
Sad too, is the fact that the country now witnesses the rise and official institutionalization of criminal sainthood; where criminal entities that have practically taken up arms against the Government and People of Nigeria and massacred over 25,000 mostly religiously and ethnically targeted Nigerians such as predominant Christian Ethnic Nationalities of Igbo and others since 2009, are now governmentally rewarded and seemed to have been enlisted for national merit awards; whereas innocent citizens who non-violently assert their constitutional and international rights to citizenship, development, identity, worship and self determination, are labelled and treated governmentally as “terrorists” and “treasonable felons”.
Just recently, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai was quoted and heavily criticized for describing the Free Chibok Girls Campaigners as Advocacy Terrorists and their campaign as Advocacy Terrorism. As we speak, thousands of arrested Boko Haram suspects are presidentially petted and treated as repentant Boko Haram members or released in droves as “cleared Boko Haram suspects”; while scores of innocent, nonviolent and defenceless Nigerians are being violently attacked by SSS and clamped into incommunicado detention without trial over spurious criminal allegations of “being terrorists” and “treasonable felons”.
|Justice O. Udo|
It is recalled that Major Gen Muhammadu Buhari (as he then was) had in the dark hours of 31st December 1983 violently ousted the democratically elected government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari and enacted Decree No 2 of 1984, cited as the Nigerian State Security (Detention of Persons) Decree No. 2 of 1984, which allowed for indefinite and incommunicado detention of Nigerian citizens. The State Security (Detention of Persons) Decree Number 2 of 1984 also suspended indefinite the constitutional freedoms or Fundamental Human Rights Chapter of the then 1979 civilian Constitution and empowered the chief of staff, Supreme Headquarters, to detain indefinitely (subject to review every three months) anyone suspected of “acts prejudicial to state security or contributing to the economic adversity of the nation.” The Decree also authorized any police officer or a member of the armed forces to arrest and detain such a person at will and without trial.
The Buhari Administration has also technically suspended the Fundamental Human Rights Chapter of the 1999 Constitution and taken refuge in moribund and obnoxious legislations such as Section 27 of the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011 as amended in 2013 as well as the moribund Decree No 2 of 1984 under which scores of innocent Nigerians including the leader of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim Zaky El-Zaky, his wife, Malama Zeenatu and over a dozen nonviolent Pro Biafra Campaigners and members of IPOB have been clamped into incommunicado detention for several months without trial.
Under these obnoxious provisions which grossly run contrary and inconsistent with Section 1 (3) (supremacy of the Constitution above any other law) and Section 35 (4) (detention of citizens for whatever alleged crimes not exceeding 60 days without bail and 90 days with bail, but without court trial) of 1999 Constitution; innocent and dissent voices are recklessly arrested by SSS, labelled “terrorists” and clamped into incommunicado detention for several months without trial and tortured severely in custody. All the citizens presently in the SSS custody, drawn from IPOB and IMN have never used or advocated violence. They were arrested in their sleep or shops or on transit.
The arrested citizens are routinely stigmatized and criminalized by the State and its SSS and where any detained citizen is rarely arraigned; he or she is expressly subjected to prosecutorial vindictiveness or slammed with obnoxious and trumped up criminal charges. Most of them are also arrested in their sleep, detained for months after which roguish ex parte orders are sought and obtained to further detain them for 90 additional days with limitless renewal upon expiration of every three months until the investigation is concluded. These the Buhari Administration and its SSS do under obnoxious Section 27 of the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011 as amended in 2013, among other questionable procedures and processes.
Court orders and other judicial pronouncements condemning detention of citizens above 60 days and ordering for their unconditional release in accordance with Section 35 (4) of the 1999 Constitution have been flouted and disobeyed by the Buhari Administration and its SSS with reckless abandon.
For instance, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Ibrahim Zaky El-Zaky and his wife, Malama Zeenatu are the longest serving detainees without court trial in the history of democratic Nigeria or since 1999. The Shiite leader and his wife have been held incommunicado by SSS for over 13 months. They were shot and battered by soldiers after a thousand of their followers were killed or went missing between 12th and 14th December 2015 in Zaria, Kaduna State. While the IMN leader had 18 bullets reportedly removed from his body, his wife had four bullets removed from her body as well. It is feared in some informed quarters as whether the IMN leader and his wife are still alive or have died in SSS custody. Since they were shot half dead by Lt Gen Tukur Buratai led Nigerian Army and taken into SSS custody on 14th of December 2015, they have not been brought to public or allowed access to be seen by their biological relatives.
13 nonviolent Pro Biafra Campaigners and members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) have also been arrested and detained incommunicado by SSS for several months without trial in the ongoing violent crackdown launched by the Buhari Administration and its SSS against IPOB members particularly in the Southeast and the South-south regions of Nigeria. The Buhari Administration also massacred over 250 of the group’s members and supporters and terminally shot and injured over 300 others in over eight different locations in Anambra, Abia, Delta and Rivers States between August 2015 and May 2016.
The names of the solitarily detained IPOB members are: (1) Citizen Justice O. Udo. He was arrested by SSS in Port Harcourt, Rivers State in the mid night of 13th July 2016 and thrown into indefinite detention without trial till date; a period of over six months or 18 days. (2) Citizen Sunday Chukwuka Obasi was arrested by SSS in the late night of 16th August 2016 in Nnewi, Anambra State; shot at his two legs and thrown into indefinite detention without trial as at December 2016; a period of over four months.
(3) Citizens Ikechukwu Ugwuoha, (4) Asochukwu Boniface Ugochukwu, (5) Sunday J. Okafor, (6) Ekene Onuoha and (7) Joseph Okorie (Ogbuawa) were arrested by SSS on 24th August 2016 at Ugba Junction, near Aba in Abia State at about 7.30am on their way back from Kuje Prison (where they had gone to see their leader, Nnamdi Kanu) and thrown into indefinite detention without trial till date; a period of almost five months each. (8) Citizen Bright Chimezie. He was arrested by Police in Akwa Ibom State at business hours of 16th September 2016 and handed over to the SSS, which took him into incommunicado detention without trial till date; a period of four months. (9) Citizen Ndubuisi Arum (High Chief Oko) was arrested by SSS in Aba, Abia State in October 2016 and detained incommunicado without trial till date; a period of over three months.
(10) Citizen Eta Stephen Bassey is a 45yrs old Principal of the Wisdom Child International School in Bokokiri area of Port Harcourt in Rivers State. He is also the Financial Secretary of IPOB in Bundu Unit Town Zone 1 of the organization in Rivers State and hails from Abi Local Government Area of Cross River State. He was abducted by SSS at the business hours of 3rd November 2016 around Victoria Street/Aggrey Road area of Port Harcourt in Rivers State where he had gone to buy “suya” meat and till date; a period of 72 days, he has remained in solitary detention of the SSS. His mobile phone number as released by his close associates is +2348034284857.
(11) Citizen Moses Agbo is a member of the Biafra Family Writers. He was arrested by SSS on the Christmas Eve of December 2016 after he visited Citizen Nnamdi Kanu in Kuje Prison and till date; a period of 21 days, he is still held incommunicado by the SSS without trial. (12) Citizen Udochukwu Nelson, (13) Citizen Echeie Osten and (14) Citizen Rose… were arrested at their market shops at the business hours of 13th January 2017 by SSS in Rumuola area of Port Harcourt in Rivers State and they are still being held incommunicado as of today. Information available at our advocacy disposal also clearly indicates that all of the SSS detainees are gravely tortured to incriminate themselves and confess to spurious allegations of their involvement in “terrorism” and “treasonable felony”. Citizen Bright Chimezie, for instance, is said to have had his two legs broken by his SSS torturers in the Akwa Ibom State Directorate of the Service in Uyo.
All the circumstances, processes and procedures under which the above named innocent Nigerians were arrested, accused, tortured and held incommunicado are totally foreign, strange and unknown to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; all ratified by Nigeria in 1983 and 1993.
By Section 1(3) of the 1999 Constitution, the 1999 Constitution is supreme, commander-in-chief and general overseer of all other laws in Nigeria. By Section 35(4) of the 1999 Constitution, Section 27 of the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011 as amended in 2013 is dead and buried; by virtue of its gross inconsistency with the said Section as it concerns deadline for detention of citizens accused of whatever crime in Nigeria. By Section 315 of the 1999 Constitution, all other existing and newly created laws in Nigeria are mandatorily subject to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and shall be brought in tandem and consistency by amendment or modifications with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution. By Section 287(3) of the 1999 Constitution, the decisions of the Federal High Court, the FCT High Court and the State High Court shall be forced in any part of the Federation by all authorities and persons and by other courts of law with subordinate jurisdiction to that of the above named courts.
|IPOB Leader Nnamdi Kanu|
Instances of decided cases also abound. In a landmark judgment delivered on 17th December 2015 by Hon Justice A.F.A Ademola of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court in Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/873/15 (SSS v Nnamdi Kanu), the Judge while reversing his 10th November 2015 unconstitutional ex parte order for additional 90 days detention of the Applicant (Nnamdi Kanu) for spurious allegations of “terrorism and terrorism financing” by SSS held as follows:
….besides, there is no doubt that constitutional provisions remain supreme and every citizen’s rights are strictly protected and jealously guarded by Courts-see also Hassan v EFCC (supra). For the period spanning over two months, the Applicant (Nnamdi Kanu) remained in Respondent (SSS)’s custody. The Applicant is yet to be charged formally of all terrorism suspicion before a Court of competent jurisdiction.
From the foregoing, therefore, this Court holds that: (a) the Respondents are not ready to grant the Applicant bail as per the Order of the Chief Magistrate Court; (b) the Respondents lack enough material to prosecute the Applicant; (c) the Respondents are yet to make up their mind on the Applicant.
Therefore, whilst the Respondents are pondering on their next steps, this Court holds that the Applicant’s detention for more than two months in Respondent’s custody without filing charges before a Court of competent jurisdiction on suspected crime is contrary to Section 35(4) of the 1999 Constitution.
The Applicant (Nnamdi Kanu) is hereby released unconditionally pursuant to Section 35 (4) of the 1999 Constitution and in view of the Respondent’s admission that there is no pending charge against the Applicant. This landmark judgment was not only flouted and disobeyed by the SSS, but also the Nigerian Army at the Onitsha Bridgehead in Anambra State shot and killed over ten innocent citizens and wounded scores of others in protest.
Similarly on 1st December 2016, another Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, presided over by Hon Justice Gabriel Kolawole declared the continued detention of the leader of IMN, Ibrahim El-ZakyZaky and his wife, Malama Zeenatu without court trial as unconstitutional and ordered for their unconditional release within 45 days as well as payment of monetary compensation amounting to N25Million each to Malam Zaky El-Zaky and his wife, Malama Zeenatu.
The duo had been in solitary detention without trial since 14th of December 2015. They were shot severally at close range by Nigerian Army and a total of 22 live bullets were reportedly removed from their bodies: 18 bullets from Malam El-Zaky’s body and four from his wife-Zeenatu. It is unclear whether they are still alive or dead in SSS custody. Today marks the expiration of the 45 days judicial order for their unconditional release and as expected, it is again flouted and disobeyed by SSS.
Yesterday being 14th January 2017 marked 390 days or 13 months since Malam ZakyZaky and his wife Malama Zeenatu were taken into SSS custody and detained incommunicado without trial. This is unheard of in the history of democratic Nigeria or since 1999. Citizen Nnamdi Kanu and Citizen Dave Nwawuisi have also marked 450 days or 15 months in solitary detention yesterday having been arrested by SSS on 14th October 2015. Citizen Benjamin Madubugwu had also marked 18 months or 540 days in solitary detention having been arrested since July 2015. The trio of Kanu, Nwawuisi and madubugwu have remained at pre-trial proceedings or detained without bail till date.
We are therefore compelled to add our advocacy voice to that of the Legal Defense team of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu and ors who disclosed in the open Court on 10th January 2017 that “nine IPOB members who visited Nnamdi Kanu in Kuje Prison have been killed by SSS after they were arrested and taken into its custody”. This is in addition to the fact that Citizens Justice O. Udo, Sunday Chuks Obasi, Ikechukwu Ugwuoha, Asochukwu Boniface Ugochukwu, Sunday Okafor, Ekene Onuoha, Joseph Okorie, Bright Chimezie, Ndubuisi Arum and Eta Stephen Bassey have been solitarily held dead or alive by SSS for several months after they were arrested and detained without trial. Since the dates of their arrest, their families, lawyers and physicians have been denied access to them.
Consequently, the authorities of the SSS are hereby called upon to produce publicly and bodily alive the named solitary detainees in its custody including Malam Ibrahim Zaky El-Zaky and his wife-Malama Zeenatu. Their public presentation must be covered by the trio of dependent and independent print, visual/audio visual and online media. The solitary detainees, who must include all the 13 detained IPOB members, must not only be publicly and bodily produced, but also be made to speak to Nigerians independently and coherently in live media coverage.
These the SSS must do within two weeks; otherwise all Nigerians including this Organization shall have cogent reasons to conclude that some or all of them including the detained Islamic cleric and his wife have been killed by SSS in its custody as alleged. We also demand for immediate and unconditional release of all 13 detained Pro Biafra Campaigners and the leader of Shiite Muslim and his wife.
As we have repeatedly demanded, the SSS and the Buhari Administration must end violent crackdown on nonviolent Pro Biafra Campaigners and members of the Shiite Muslim Community. Such huge State energies and resources being wasted in persecuting Pro Biafra Campaigners and Shiite Muslims shall be adequately channelled towards the terrorist, felonious and genocidal activities of Boko Haram and Fulani terrorists that killed over 2000 innocent citizens in 2016 alone.
Note: The attached pictures are: 1 Citizen Ekene Onuoha, 2 Asochukwu Boniface, 3 Bright Chimezie, 4 Moses Agbo, 5 Justice O. Udo, 6 Ugwuoha Ikechukwu, 7 Sunday Okafor and 8 Ndubuisi Arum (High Chief Oko).
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety)
Call Line: +2348174090052
Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Esq.
Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program
Call Line: +2348180771506