A human rights activist and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana has berated the Nigerian Navy over failure to release forty Nigerians who are ‘illegally detained’.
Naija News learnt that Falana had earlier urged the president to order the release of 40 Nigerians who have been in “illegal custody” of 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.
However, in a letter written to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Saturday, Falana revealed how the naval authorities failed to either release the detainees or arraign them but alleged that the force refused to heed the president’s order.
“We have confirmed that sequel to our petition to President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Human Rights Commission over the prolonged detention of 40 Nigerian citizens without trial, the Presidency promptly directed the authorities of the Nigerian Navy to either release the detainees or arraign them in appropriate courts,” the letter read.
“But in a desperate bid to deceive the presidency, the naval authorities gave the false impression that the detainees had been transferred to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for the purpose of charging them with criminal offences at the Federal High Court.
“Specifically, on May 23, 2019, the Nigerian Navy paraded 32 detainees before the media and announced that they had been transferred to the EFCC office in Abuja. Barely 24 hours later, the Nigerian Navy claimed to have transferred another group of 8 detainees to the EFCC at Warri, Delta State.
“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.”
Describing the action of the naval authorities as “provocative impunity”, Falana quoted Beegroy Ibe-Ekwo, chief of policy and plans, naval headquarters, as saying the detainees would not be released from “illegal custody.”
The human rights lawyer urged Buhari to call Ibe-Ekwe to order for “making a mockery of the directive of the presidency”.
As a deterrent to other public officers, he also asked the commission to recommend the sanctioning of Ibok-Ete Ibas, chief of naval staff, to the president for gross infringement of human rights of the detainees.