A civil rights advocacy group known as Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has urged the Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr Dave Umahi, to order the release of over 300 suspected members of the proscribed group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), allegedly detained for months without prosecution in the state.
In a statement by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Director, Media Affairs, Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA condemned the Ebonyi State government for the action, and described it as illegal.
According to the group, keeping the suspects, some of them pregnant women, in detention beyond pretrial period stipulated in section 36 of Nigeria’s 1999 constitution is illegal.
The rights group cited relevant subsections of sections 36 and other sections of the constitution which described the rights of citizens to dignity, fair hearing, trial and prosecution.
The group also called on the National Human Rights Commission to be alive to its responsibility and visit prison facilities in Ebonyi State to secure the freedom of the detainees.
The group said, “We are worried that the nation has a national institution for the promotion and protection of Human Rights known as the National Human Rights Commission, yet we have 300 accused members of IPOB some of them pregnant woman have been kept in pre-trial detention facilities that aren’t habitable even when they are to be presumed innocent until convicted by the court of law as stipulated constitutionally.
“This is a shame of the 21st century and to think that the Ebonyi State Governor is the Chairman of Igbo governors makes the entire scenario even the more worrisome and pathetic.”
The group also condemned the alleged maltreatment by the State Security Services of the legal representatives of the detained leader of IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
HURIWA noted that the right to dignity was a fundamental human right and called on security operatives to be law abiding in handling agitators.
The group enjoined the DSS to comply with global best practices in terms of respect for human dignity.