The International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety), has asked the Nigerian and Imo State Governments to discontinue, withdraw and discharge all the 10-count charges of treasonable felony, conspiracy to commit treasonable felony and terrorism levelled against over 100 women arrested during a pro Biafra protest.
Intersociety, in a statement signed by Board Chairman Emeka Umeagbalasi and Head, Civil Liberties and Rule of Law Programme, Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Esq, accused the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration of pushing Igbos to the wall.
“The incarcerated Mothers of Igbo Nation deserve apologies and reparative packages for their wrongful detention and being labeled “terrorists” and “felons” in Government’s panicky and draconian response to their use of “braziers as human rights kits” to protest Government’s sundry atrocities against their children and husbands,” it said.
“In line with the recent Judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria on unconstitutionality of the so called “Holden Charge”, we further call upon the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the AGF, as case may be, to issue a practice direction to all Magistrates in Nigeria to refrain from using their Courts to effect indiscriminate dumping of suspects in prison custodies especially in offences the said Magistrates and their Courts do not have jurisdiction to try,”
“Common sense and logic suffix that where a Magistrate Court cannot exercise jurisdiction over an offence before the Court, such zero jurisdiction must be exercised fully including non admittance of the arraignment of the suspects connected to the zero jurisdiction matter or by not allowing the charge sheet to be read in open Court. The arresting and detaining authorities coming to the Court with such zero jurisdiction matter should be sent out of the Court or ordered to take their detainees to the appropriate Courts (i.e. High Court) and charged them accordingly.
“Analysis done by Intersociety on their social and family backgrounds clearly shows that most of them are mothers of young children. Those under this category are between the ages of 22 and 45, numbering 80. Yet their incarceration and torture has attracted little or no attention locally and internationally.
“This is in spite of the fact that they did not commit any felony during their street protest, with no gun or rifle of any kind or IEDs found in their possession or from any of them; except flags and insignias and other faith objects such as bangles, chaplets, bibles, necklaces, sachets of water, etc. Still they were arrested, detained, tortured and labeled “terrorists” and “treasonable felons”; with the world maintaining inexplicable silence of congregated and aggregated proportion till date.
“It is recalled that the incarcerated Mothers of the Igbo Nation whose names are provided below had on 17th August 2018 embarked on peaceful street protest (guaranteed by Sections 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution under rights to freedom of expression, assembly and movement) in Owerri, Imo State.
“The street protest was organised by the unarmed, defenseless and innocent women to express their deep displeasure over persecutory policies of the present central Government in Igbo Land including ceaseless killing in hundreds by the same Government of unarmed and defenseless pro Biafra activists and maiming of hundreds of others as well as planned “Army Python Dance 111” and non disclosure of the whereabouts of Mr. Nnamdi Kanu and his royal parents, HRH, Eze Israel Okwu and Lolo Ugoeze Nnene Kanu who reportedly went missing following the military invasion of their Afara-ukwu Palace near, Umuahia on 14th September 2017.
“The police and other security agencies, on orders of the Government of Imo State and the Federal Government of Nigeria resorted to use of draconian methods by getting them rounded up and detained for three days at the State Police Command Headquarters in Owerri; from where they were arraigned at Owerri Magistrate Court, presided over Mrs. S.K. Kaduruma. The arraignment was with charge number: OW/430/2018: CP Imo State v Ijeoma Okorie (30yrs) & 111 ors. The Legal and Prosecution Department of the State Police Command represented by SP Thaddeus Okechukwu later read 10-count spurious charges of “treasonable felony”, “conspiracy to commit treasonable felony”, “terrorism”, among others.
“Despite efforts made by their team of lawyers led by Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor to draw the judicial attention of the presiding Magistrate, Mrs. S.K. Kaduruma to the recent judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria to the effect that “a Magistrate Court that does not have jurisdiction to try an offense brought before her, cannot exercise same jurisdiction she does not have by remanding the alleged offenders of the offence to prison custody”, the presiding Magistrate ignored same, hiding under the same cover of “orders from above” and remanded the 112 Mothers to prison custody and adjourned till 3rd September 2018.
Intersociety, in the statement, identified most of the incarcerated women follows: Afoma Umoh Wisdom (64yrs), Virginia Akwufube (62yrs), Ezike Emmanuela (62yrs), Uzoma Oraka (62yrs), Charity Obioha (60yrs), Chinyere Nwachukwu (55yrs), Udeogu Margret (58yrs), Ratchel Okengwu (58yrs), Angelina Felix (55yrs), Monica Anaelechi (54yrs), Esther Osuji (52yrs), Florence Olewembu (52yrs), Nkechi Ekwedisika (52yrs), Kosarachukwu Udegbunam (51yrs), Josephine Ogolo (51yrs), Monica Nwaeleke (50yrs), Mabel Okoire (50yrs), Chika Njoku (50yrs), Grace Nkemakolam (50yrs), Paulina Awunezi (50yrs), Christiana Muonwuba (50yrs), Margret Eze (50yrs), Florence Egede (50yrs), Rose Osuchukwu (50yrs), Comfort Uti (50yrs), Nnedinma Onuoha (49yrs), Agatha Nwachukwu (49yrs).
Ijeoma Okorie (30yrs), Uloma Ejiogu (30yrs), Victoria Jacob (45yrs), Vivian Ozuruigbo (30yrs), Chinenye Imo (40yrs), Chinyere Egbulom (38yrs), Cynthia Onyebuchi (31yrs), Chigbata Chinyere (38yrs), Egesi Josephine (41yrs), Hope Eze (45yrs), Ikejiofor Amechi (44yrs), Nkeiru Ajagba (45yrs), Ngozi James (46yrs), Nnene Nweke (46yrs), Lucy Mary Kanu (21yrs), Irole Goodness (30yrs), Ogechi Okechukwu (30yrs), Tochukwu Eze (38yrs), Onyemaechi Ijezie (38yrs), Ginika Awuzie (39yrs), Vero Nnamani (30yrs), Nkwoagu Chinenye (22), Ijeoma Victoria Nnadozie (43yrs), Blessing Udeme (25yrs), Nnewuchi Obiageli (31yrs), Ngozi Onyenwugo (22yrs), Ruth Onwumere (45yrs), Nkeiruka Ohanebo (45yrs), Nzube Uwaigwe (22yrs), Eberechi Iheanacho (39yrs), Ego Nwafor (40yrs), Chinyere Eze (32yrs).
Adaku Inyama (45yrs), Ndidi Uchenna (45yrs), Nneka Kingsley (38yrs), Nkeiru Nwankwo (37yrs), Chinwendu David (38yrs), Juliet Nwaiwu (42yrs), Juliet Innocent Onwuka (40yrs), Chinyere Nwankwo (25yrs), Nkeiru Orji (34yrs), Joy Uwabunike (47yrs), Nnene Ibeneli (38yrs), Jane Isaac (25yrs), Kelechi Emmanuel (40yrs), Ngozi Nwajiaku (34yrs), Ugochi Okwum (32yrs), Ifeoma Emmanuel (42yrs), Nkeiru Onyegbari (35yrs), Eucharia Eke (42yrs), Ijeoma Onyedinefu (33yrs), Blessing Nnedede (26yrs), Iheanyichukwu Ogueri (35yrs), Ogochukwu Alaribe (35yrs), Uchechukwu Okoro (48yrs), Iheomachi Ejiaku (40yrs), Uchchukwu Ahamuefula (32yrs).
Evelyn Usulo (38yrs), Joy Chimezie (45yrs), Precious Ogbonna (40yrs), Obiageli Nwite (48yrs), Ginika Ndibe (20yrs), Chinelo Ugwueze (38yrs), Nwachukwu Blessing (22yrs), Rita Edet (29yrs), Nnenna Okorie (36yrs), Chinyere Eze (43yrs), Iwuneme Bibian (45yrs), Onuoha Ogechi (no age), Peculiar Nwachukwu (28yrs), Felicia Ike (42yrs), Obiageli Obumsolu (39yrs) Ugonne Godwin (45yrs), Kalunwoke Ekemiri (28yrs), Nwauwa Cecelia (44yrs), Igboka Ngozi, Angela Okeke, Blessing Aguama, Oguchim Chinedu and Mary Okorie (classified in their charge sheet as “adults” but possibly in their 70s).
By Wale Odunsi, Daily Post