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Nnamdi Kanu’s lawyer, supporters still detained, family cry out
Over 24 persons, including Pius Awoke, a member of the legal team representing the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, are still being held in the detention camps of the Department of State Services, their solicitor, Nnaemeka Ejiofor, said on Monday.
According to him, the 24 persons were part of hundreds of people in different courts in Nigeria, most of whom have now become victims of forced disappearance from the custody of the DSS, Police and Nigerian Army.
He said, “Once a person is forced to disappear, such a person loses the protection of the law.
“The persons under this unlawful detention are purely under the state of nature and in these days of trading in human parts, one cannot tell if they have been balkanized and sold in bits and pieces.
“We urge the Federal Government to do the right thing by producing these victims and releasing them to their families with apologies and compensation as it is not a crime to demand for self-determination like the IPOB, under the leadership of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has been clamouring for over the years.”
Ejiofor stated these during a press conference attended by their wives and family members, which held in the office of Kanu’s lead lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor.
Apart from Awoke, other victims were Ikechukwu Henry, Joy Godwin Udoh aka (Idara Gold), Emeka Ngonadi, Chinedu Nwoba, Igwe Johnson Dike, Ogbonna Joseph Ajah, Kingsley Onovu, Ogbonna David, Kenneth Ojima, Fortune Okezie, Joseph Okafor Eze, Emmanuel Onyibe Chinonso and Uket Godwin.
Others being held were Ogbonna Christian Ndubisi, Eze Ernest Chukwuemeka, Ibeleme Tochukwu, Emmanuel Ike, Rev Cletus Egole, Pastor Philip Chinedu Egole, Chinonso Anyanwu, Kelechi Okeke,
Godspower Chilemu and Chukwuma Nwaokike.
According to Ejiofor, the men and woman who were of Igbo and Ibibio extractions were accused by the Federal Government of belonging to IPOB or close associates of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and were arrested from various parts of Nigeria on various dates while their whereabouts remained unknown.
He said, “Pius I. Awoke, Fortune Okezie, Chinedu Nwoba, Chinonso Onyeibe, Eze Joseph, David Ogbonnaya, Ajah Joseph, Igwe Johnson, Kenneth Ojima, Widom Ezika Nwambana, Uket Godwin:
“The above eleven persons were amongst those who came from Ebonyi State, Eastern Nigeria to witness the trial of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu on July 26 2021.
After the case of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu on the said date at the Federal High Court, Abuja, they boarded two vehicles back to Ebonyi State only to be intercepted by a Navy Unit stationed at Lokoja, Kogi State.
“They were held down at the check point for over five hours till a team of the state security service came to take them back to Abuja.
“Upon being sued in court to challenge their arrest and detention, they were said to have been transferred to WAWA Military Barracks in Niger State.
“Neither their lawyers nor their families have seen them or spoken to them, nor have they been brought before any court for trial.
“Ikechukwu Henry, a father of a four months old baby at the time of arrest, was arrested alongside his wife and the baby by members of the Nigerian Army at about 2 am from their residence at Akwuke Akwnano, Enugu South Local Government Area of Enugu State on August 23, 2021.
“He was detained at the military police detention room in Enugu until September 1 2021 when he was moved with a military Air force jet to Abuja and kept in the counter intelligence command under the Chief of Military Intelligence, Brigade General Onoja, and as at December 23 2021, he was in cell five of the counter intelligence command.
“He has not been allowed access to his lawyers and family members who led to the family instituting a case at the Federal High Court sitting in Enugu before Hon Justice I. N. Buba.
“His Lordship on March 23 2022 ordered the Nigerian Army to produce Ikechukwu Henry before him on the next adjourned date being March 25 2022.
“On March 30 2022, the Nigerian Army filed a counter affidavit deposed by one Lt. Col, Chidi Egbom informing the court that Ikechukwu Henry was transferred to the custody of State Security Services consequent upon which the state security services was made a party in the suit.
“The State Security Services filed a counter affidavit denying that they have or received Ikechukwu Henry into its custody.
“The court consequently made an order for oral evidence to be taken so as to clear the difference in the deposition of both the Nigerian Army and the State Security Service.
“Both parties appeared in court on the 21st June, 2022 and each party, the SSS and the Army, maintained their positions.
“Despite the various opportunities given to the Nigerian Army to prove that it indeed transferred Ikechukwu Henry to the state security service, they could not till date and the matter has been adjourned for judgment. Till date, Ikechukwu Henry’s whereabouts is unknown.”
Also, Joy Godwin Udoh (Idara Gold), a 20 years old lady was said to have gone to celebrate her birthday with her fiancée when officers of the DSS stormed the fiancée’s house in search of the fiancée, Mazi Chuks Egwuatu.
While her fiancée’s siblings were released after about five days in detention; she was transferred to Abuja office of the DSS.
Udoh’s offence, the lawyer said, was that she dressed in a certain coloured dress for her birthday and the security agencies concluded that coloured dress was advertising and influencing for IPOB.
Like the others before and after her, Ejiofor said she was transferred to a military cell without an order of court and contrary to all known laws in Nigeria.
He said, “The Federal High Court presided over by Hon. Justice Maha deprecated the action of the state security service and ordered that Joy Godwin Udoh be allowed access to her lawyers and family members but despite the order of court the DSS have consistently failed to allow us, her lawyers, family members, access to her.
“Udoh was subsequently charged to court for being a member of IPOB but on the date slated for her to be brought to court, the Federal Government, through the officers of the Attorney General’s office, said she could not be brought to court due to logistic challenges. (Whatever that means).
“Till today, we do not know where Joy Godwin Udoh is, neither has any of us including her family been able to see or meet or hear from her.
“Emeka Ngonadi was arrested by men of the SSS on April 10, 2021 on his way back from Lagos where he had gone to buy goods for his trade. He was taken to Abuja office of the SSS where he was detained and subsequently moved to the military detention facility on the September 23 2021, according to an affidavit by the SSS. The Federal Government has failed to charge him to court and has not allowed his lawyers or family members to visit him till date. The SSS also confiscated all his goods worth over N60 million, which he was bringing into Onitsha from Lagos.
“Ogbonna Christian Ndubisiwas arrested amid serious beating by combined team of SSS and police on August 20 2022 at about 2:30am from his house at No.29 Ukwuagor Road, Abakpa near Ahia 4, Enugu State. His wife was not spared in the beating. He was transferred to Abuja office of the SSS and nobody has heard or seen him since then.
“It is important to note that all the victims here are all of Igbo extraction except for Joy Godwin Udoh whose mother is Igbo and Uket Godwin both of whom are from Akwa-Ibom State with close affinity with the Igbos. The offences of these men and woman are that they are members of IPOB or close associates of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“None of these victims of enforced disappearance have received
anything like a trial since their arrests. None of them has ever been allowed to contact their lawyers or family and all judicial efforts made to see them or get them released has been illegally thwarted and frustrated.
“These victims are just a fraction of the number of persons who were arrested and disappeared as so many very gory and scary reports of extra-judicial execution, murder in the cruelest manner such as by suffocation, starvation and or summary execution abound.