By Kunle Adedoyin
Femi Falana, SAN, Human Rights lawyer, has raised the alarm over the alleged unlawful detention of ten more Nigerians by the Nigerian Navy.
In a letter addressed to Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Falana said the citizens have been in detention since October, 2018.
This comes amid the criticism trailing similar detention of 15 other Nigerians by the security agency against court order.
In the letter dated May 10, Falana said the ten citizens were arrested aboard a vessel in Lagos on the orders of Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, chief of naval staff.
He gave their names as Oloyede Ademola Yisau, Omogoye Wasiu Bolaji, Edu Fidelis, Richard David, Mike Simeon, Umoren Daniel, Okoghene Asaiki, Udom Victor, James Archibong and Umon Godswill Emmanuel.
Falana said the detainees were crew members aboard a vessel known as “NESO II” which was hijacked by a gang of pirates.
“However, the detainees were rescued while the pirates were arrested by the Beecroft Naval Base. Curiously, the crew members who were not indicted in the investigation conducted by the Nigerian Navy into the hijacking of the vessel have since been detained aboard the ship in Marina, Lagos in breach of their fundamental rights to personal liberty and fair hearing,” he said.
“Apart from detaining the crew members in a dehumanizing military facility the Nigerian Navy has compelled each of them to wear the same dress for seven months.
“Thus, the fundamental rights of the detainees to dignity and freedom of movement have also been violated. Since the detainees are civilians who are not subject to service law the Nigerian Navy ought to have reported them to the Nigeria Police Force if there was reasonable suspicion that they committed any criminal offence whatsoever.”
Falana asked the AGF to direct the immediate release of the detainees as well as the prosecution of the chief of naval staff “for subjecting the detainees to physical and mental torture contrary to the provisions of the Anti Torture Act, 2017.”
“Take notice that if you fail to accede to our request within 48 hours of the receipt of this letter we shall not hesitate to file an application at the Federal High Court to secure the enforcement of the fundamental rights of the detainees to personal liberty, dignity, fair hearing and movement and seek an order of mandamus to compel you to prosecute of the Chief of Naval Staff,” he said.