Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has condemned the Ebonyi State Government for allegedly detaining for months nearly 300 suspected members of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) in which some of them are pregnant without prosecution.
HURIWA, therefore, urged governor David Umahi to order the unconditional release of these detainees who have been illegally kept in the jails beyond the constitutionally stipulated pre-trial detention periods prescribed in Section 36 of the Constitution even as the Rights group has asked the National Human Rights Commission to wake up to its responsibility and visit prison facilities in Ebonyi State to seek the freeing of these detainees.
According to the group, section 36 states thus:36. (1) In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.
In a statement signed by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said it is shameful that Ebonyi State could be used as a slave or labour camp for citizens caught in conflict with the law only because they belonged to the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra for months without following due process of the law.
“We are worried that the nation has a national institution for the promotion and protection of Human Rights known as the National Human Rights Commission, yet we have 300 accused members of IPOB some of them pregnant women been kept in pre-trial detention facilities that aren’t habitable even when they are to be presumed innocent until convicted by the court of law as stipulated constitutionally.
“This is a shame of the 21st century and to think that the Ebonyi State Governor is the Chairman of Igbo governors makes the entire scenario even the more worrisome and pathetic”.
HURIWA recalled that in a statement from its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, IPOB condemned incessant killings, unprovoked attacks and abduction of its members and security operatives, Eastern Security Network (ESN) in the State.
The statement partly reads: “The global family of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) under the command and leadership of our great leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu strongly condemns the incessant killings and unprovoked attacks and abduction of those suspected to be IPOB members and Eastern Security Network, ESN operatives in Ebonyi state by the wicked Nigeria security agents.
“This atrocity is being perpetrated with the connivance of the Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi and the infamous EBUBEAGU security outfit.
“Their intention is to unleash terror on innocent citizens of Ebonyi State, and possibly stop them from supporting the agitation for Biafra restoration.
“These agents of oppression supported by Gov. Dave Umahi have continued to kill IPOB members and innocent Biafrans, tagging them ESN operatives.
“Over 300 members of IPOB are currently languishing in jail and other detention facilities across Ebonyi State, and many have died in the prison.
Relatedly, HURIWA has also condemned the alleged maltreatment by the state security services of the legal representatives of the detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Mazi Nnamdi Kanu just as the group said the Right to dignity is a fundamental human right and therefore the security agency must be law-abiding.
HURIWA recalled that Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s lead counsel, Ifeanyi Ejiofor has revealed how operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) humiliated them when they went to visit the IPOB leader in detention.
According to Ejiofor, DSS operatives disgraced them on Thursday by forcing them to remove their shoes, glasses.
According to Ejiofor, they were offered slippers after being searched like ‘hardened offenders.’
Ejiofor said, “The routine visit to our client, Nnamdi Kanu, was conducted today, and it went successfully.
“Our client, Nnamdi Kanu, specifically requested for his kind regards and compliments to be conveyed to millions of his teeming supporters and well-wishers. He is deeply appreciative of your unwavering solidarity/support. He didn’t hesitate in requesting that you all continue to pray without season, because it is positively impacting.
“However, today’s visit witnessed a fundamental change in the hitherto procedures conventionally adopted for conducting the visit.
“We were initially unperturbed by the method now introduced by the DSS, but we feel compelled in the prevailing circumstance to make public our strange experience which borders on the improper treatment of lawyers in the course of conducting a court-ordered visit to their client who is undergoing trial.
“Lawyers on this visit were searched in a manner akin to a situation where hardened criminals are being searched for possible incriminating substance and object.
The Rights group said the SSS as a statutory agency established for Nigeria, must comply with global best practices and respect human dignity just as the Rights group said the allegations must be investigated and redressed by the hierarchy of this agency of law enforcement.