A human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has faulted the seven-month detention of a former soldier, Emmanuel Odaudu, over some old Facebook videos.
Naija News reports that Odaudu was dismissed from the Nigerian Army for posting short videos of himself rapping while in uniform on social media.
It was learned that he was arrested and detained for three months for ‘disrespecting the Nigerian Army’ until he was dismissed.
However, Emmanuel’s mother, Helen, said her son returned home after his dismissal, and the military arrested him again in Otukpo, Benue State, on June 12, 2020, on the allegation that he impersonated the Army in the old videos
According to his mother, Odadudu has been detained in the Nigerian Military Special Investigation Bureau’s underground cell in Abuja since then.
Speaking to PUNCH Metro on Wednesday, Falana condemned the Army for illegally detaining Odaudu for over seven months without any trial.
He described the continuous detention of his client as illegal and unconstitutional, noting that the Army had no constitutional power to detain any person beyond 24 hours.
Falana asked the Nigerian Army to arraign Odaudu before a competent court and present any evidence that his client had committed an offence known to law.
According to Falana, Emmanuel’s indefinite detention was alien to constitutional democracy.
He said, “His (Emmanuel’s) mother has briefed us and we are taking it up, because it is totally unacceptable to detain any Nigerian beyond 24 hours in a place like Abuja without being arraigned in court or without a court order. It is illegal and unconstitutional; the decision of the Nigerian Army to detain Emmanuel Odaudu for seven months without trial smacks of impunity of the highest order.
“Our law firm is taking up this matter and we are going to demonstrate through this case that the Nigerian Army has no power under the law to arrest a civilian without transferring him/her to the police in line with the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.
“Even when Nigeria was under a military dictatorship, citizens were not detained at the pleasure of the Chief of Army Staff. People were detained then under preventive detention decrees, such as Decree 24 of 1967 and Decree 2 of 1984.
“What the court did then was that whenever the detention of anybody was challenged, the military authorities would have to convince the court that there was strict and scrupulous compliance with the detention order. Even at the risk of our own liberty, human rights lawyers in Nigeria did not allow such naked abuse of power.”
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