Human rights lawyer Femi Falana, has written an unprecedented letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, urging him to order the release 40 Nigerians who have been in “illegal custody” of the Nigerian Navy.
In a letter on Sunday, Mr. Falana said the individuals had been arrested and imprisoned without being arraigned in court.
According to the senior advocate of nigeria the “unlawful detention” contravened sections of the 1999 constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Ratification and Enforcement.
Falana wrote, “We have received complaints from the family members of 40 Nigerian citizens who are being detained without trial on the orders of the Authorities of the Nigerian Navy,” the letter read.
“It may interest Your Excellency to know that the detainees have been held incommunicado in dehumanising conditions for periods ranging from six to eight months.
“In fact, some of the detainees are incarcerated in an underground military detention facility in Abuja while others are held inside one of the vessels impounded by the Nigerian Navy in Marina, Lagos.
“The detainees have been subjected to mental, psychological and physical torture contrary to the provisions of the Anti Torture Act, 2017.
“Furthermore, in utter contempt of court the authorities of the Nigerian Navy have defied valid and subsisting orders of competent courts for the unconditional release of some of the detainees.
“Apart from such contemptuous conduct the Nigerian Navy recently denied knowledge of the whereabouts of the 15 detainees held in a detention facility in Abuja.
“As soon as we pointed out that the remand order procured by the Nigerian Navy for the detention of the 15 detainees had been quashed by the Chief Magistrate Court in Apapa, Lagos State the Naval Authorities turned round to file criminal charges against 5 of them before a Court Martial.
“Since all the detainees are entitled to their fundamental rights to dignity and liberty guaranteed by sections 34 and 35 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended and articles 5 and 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Ratification and Enforcement Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, we urge Your Excellency to direct the Chief Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, to either release the detainees from unlawful custody or arraign them in court without any further delay.
“In view of the fact that the illegal detention of the 40 Nigerian citizens for several months without trial has exposed the Federal Government to unwarranted embarrassment the Chief of Naval Staff ought to be sanctioned by Your Excellency.”
Mr. Dada Labinjo, a navy captain, and Sherifat Ibe Lambert (also known as Mrs Bola Labinjo), a lt. commander, have been reportedly in detention since September 2018 for an undisclosed offence.
Falana had recently asked Mr. Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), to take action against the naval authorities over the violations of the fundamental rights of the detainees.
Below is a list of all the detainees:
Captain Dada Labinjo,
Lt. Commander Sherifat Ibe Lambert
Master-Melvin Jack ;
Chief Mate-Adebayo Mayoma
Chief Mate- Francis Oneyema
2nd Eng-Godwill Umoh
Elect 2-Edu Fidelis
Elect 2-Richard David
Camp Boss-Daniel Harrison
AB 1-Omogoye Bolaji
AB 2-Victor Uchendu
AB 3-Oloyede Ademola
Oiler-Simon Onyisi Mike
Eng cadet-Udom Victor Jerome
Godwin Etiaka Ojodusi
MV Akemijo Deborah
Umon Godswill Emmanuel
MT Adeline Jumbo