Navy Refusing To Release 40 Nigerians From Illegal Custody After Buhari’s Order – Falana
Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana says that the Nigeria Navy has gone against the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari, by refusing to release forty Nigerians who are ‘illegally detained’.
The human rights lawyer had in an earlier letter, urged President Buhari the to order the release of 40 Nigerians who have been held illegally by the navy.
Falana said the President had heeded the plea and given orders for the release or arraignment of those detained, he however, noted that contrary to the President’s orders, the naval authorities have stuck to their guns.
The activist stated in a letter addressed to the National Human Rights Commssion that the naval authorities gave the false impression that the detainees had been transferred to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commssion (EFCC) for the purpose of charging them with criminal offences at the Federal High Court.
He said in their bid to deceive the Presidency the naval authorities on May 23, 2019, paraded 32 detainees before the media and announced that they had been transferred to the EFCC office in Abuja.
Falana said that barely 24 hours later, the Nigerian Navy claimed to have transferred another group of 8 detainees to the EFCC at Warri, Delta State.
The advocate argued that those handed over to the EFCC were not the forty whose release he has been fighting for.
He opined that the handing over of the new forty individuals to the EFCC is proof that the Nigerian Navy has been holding at least eighty persons in custody for months, without trial.
“It may interest you to know that the 40 suspects purportedly handed over to the EFCC are not among the 40 detainees named in our petition under reference. Thus, the Nigerian Navy has confirmed that not less than 80 citizens have been held incommunicado in undisclosed military detention facilities for several months without trial. In any case, the Nigerian Navy has not handed over the 40 suspects to the EFCC. In fact, the Naval authorities have since disclosed that the detainees have not been handed over to the EFCC contrary to the clear directive of the Presidency.”
The SAN further stressed that in a manner which smacks of “provocative impunity”, the Naval authorites announced that the detainees would not be released from illegal custody.
According to Falana, the Chief of Policy and Plans, Naval Headquarters, Rear Admiral Beegroy Ibe-Ekwo has said that “The appropriate prosecuting agencies for such offences are looking very closely into that matter. And whatever it is, if anybody has any grouse with any action, perharps, he should resort to the court instead of these media hypes, with all due respect, in the name of human rights.”
Falana said it is hoped that the Presidency will not hesitate to call Rear Admiral Ibe-Ekwe to order for making a mockery of the directive of the Presidency on the continued incarceration of the 40 detainees.
“Since the senior military officer is challenging us to “resort to the court” the Commission may wish to ask him to justify the refusal of the naval authorities to comply with the subsisting orders of the Chief Magistrate Court, Apapa, Lagos and Federal High Court for the release of some of the detainees.
“In view of the foregoing, we urge you to use your good offices to ensure that the 40 suspects and 40 detainees being detained illegally by the Nigerian Navy are released without any further delay. To serve as a deterrent to other public officers who have a penchant for violating the human rights of the Nigerian people the Commssion should recommend to President Buahri to sanction the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas for the gross infringement of the human rights of the detainees to dignity, liberty and fair hearing.
“While urging you to treat our request expeditiously please accept the assurances of our highest esteem,” Falana said.