Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
A civil society and human rights group, International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) has raised the alarm over the condition of 170 people from the South East zone languishing in prison custody in Anambra and Enugu States over alleged pro-Biafra agitation.
Board Chairman of Intersociety, Emeka Umeagbalsi, in a special press statement released in Onitsha, accused some police chiefs from the North currently working in the South East of indiscriminately arresting, framing and detaining hundreds of defenceless citizens of the region without trial and vindictively arraigning them for phantom capital offences in inappropriate courts to elongate their detention without trial.
The press statement signed by two lawyers, Obianuju Igboeli and Chidimma Udegbunam, also alleged that such actions by the police chiefs were all done outside the period stipulated for such offence. They accused them of turning blind eyes to the real security threats and challenges pervading the South East region.
Intersociety revealed that there were presently, a total of 170 defenceless citizens (140 in Enugu and 30 in Anambra) from the South East whose ages ranging between 15 and 64 including males and females, languishing in prisons and police custodies in Anambra and Enugu states. They said the victims were arrested without arms, framed and labelled “treasonable felons” and “IPOB terrorists.”
“Among the detained without trial till date are 140 defenseless and unarmed citizens including ten women (inclusive of ageing mothers) who were riding in chartered “608” commercial buses while going for a funeral ceremony. They were stopped and arrested on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, at a joint military and police checkpoint along 9th Mile/Nsukka-Oturkpa highway in Enugu State. They were tortured and transfer to State CID, Enugu. They were arraigned in court on Thursday, May 23, 2019. The court declined jurisdiction but turned around to order them to be detained at the Enugu State Prison till date. Now, a period of two weeks without court trial (has passed).”
While calling on the Attorneys General of Enugu and Anambra states to step into the matter and ensure that the 170 detained people were released unconditionally and allowed to go home, the group said the Anambra AG should enquire from the state CID and get the detainees freed.
Both the Enugu and Anambra states police commands did not confirm this story. Calls and text messages sent to the commands’ spokespersons in Enugu, Ebere Amarizu and Anambra, Haruna Muhammed were not answered by any of them.