A human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has urged Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, to immediately prosecute the Chief of Naval staff over what he described as unlawful detention of ten Nigerians by the Nigerian navy.
In a letter addressed to the Attorney-General, Falana explained that since October 2018,the citizens have been in detention.
This is coming as criticisms trail similar detention of 15 other Nigerians by the security agency against court order.
In the letter dated May 10, Falana explained that based on the orders of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, the ten citizens were arrested aboard a vessel in Lagos.
According to him, their names are; Umoren Daniel, Oloyede Ademola Yisau, Udom Victor, Edu Fidelis, Richard David, Mike Simeon, Omogoye Wasiu Bolaji, James Archibong, Umon Godswill Emmanuel and Okoghene Asaiki.
He noted that the detainees were crew members aboard a vessel known as NESO II, which was hijacked by a gang of pirates.
“However, the detainees were rescued while the pirates were arrested by the Beecroft Naval Base. Curiously, the crew members who were not indicted in the investigation conducted by the Nigerian Navy into the hijacking of the vessel have since been detained aboard the ship in Marina, Lagos in breach of their fundamental rights to personal liberty and fair hearing”, Falana said in the letter.
Femi Falana added, “Apart from detaining the crew members in a dehumanizing military facility, the Nigerian Navy has compelled each of them to wear the same dress for seven months. Thus, the fundamental rights of the detainees to dignity and freedom of movement have also been violated. Since the detainees are civilians who are not subject to service law the Nigerian Navy ought to have reported them to the Nigeria Police Force if there was reasonable suspicion that they committed any criminal offence whatsoever.”
Falana, however, requested the AGF to direct the immediate release of the detainees as well as the prosecution of the Chief of Naval Staff “for subjecting the detainees to physical and mental torture contrary to the provisions of the Anti Torture Act, 2017.”
He finally said “Take notice that if you fail to accede to our request within 48 hours of the receipt of this letter we shall not hesitate to file an application at the Federal High Court to secure the enforcement of the fundamental rights of the detainees to personal liberty, dignity, fair hearing and movement and seek an order of mandamus to compel you to prosecute of the Chief of Naval Staff”.