The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Tuesday demanded the release of Gloria Okolie, an alleged spy for the Eastern Security Network (ESN), who has been in illegal custody of the police.
Reacting to the development in Abuja, the Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Tony Ojukwu, said the only alternative open to the police is to charge her to court.
Mr Ojukwu, who was quoted in a statement released by the commission on Tuesday, described the detention as “a gross violation of human rights,” adding that it must be accounted for to serve as a deterrent.”
“The commission is therefore using this medium to demand the immediate and unconstitutional release of the detainee or in alternative charge her to a court of competent jurisdiction so that she will enjoy the right to fair hearing and the opportunity to defend the allegations against her, if any,” Mr Ojukwu said.
ESN, believed to be the military arm of the outlawed separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has been blamed for various violent activities in the South-east and South-south regions.
Amnesty International, which equally called for her release on Monday, said she was arrested by the Intelligence Response Team (IRT), a tactical unit of the Nigerian police, in Imo State on June 17, 2021.
The international human rights watchdog said she was later moved to Abuja where she has been denied access to her family members and lawyer in violation of her rights.
She has now been held in custody without charge for over 68 days as of Tuesday, in violation of the constitutional provision that prohibits suspects beyond 48 hours without charge.
Mr Ojukwu noted that the “unprofessional conduct” of the police cannot be tolerated in the 21st Century, adding that “perpetrators of such heinous crime must be immediately brought to justice.”
Expressing sadness over the claims of her being used as slave by police officers, Mr Ojukwu noted that the detainee was “washing clothes, sent in errands to buy stuffs for officers, tortured by some of the officers in charge of her detention hence the need for her release without further delay.”
“We will not hesitate to condemn such unprofessional conduct which undoubtedly resulted in further violation of the rights of the lady in question because her rights to freedom of movement and liberty among several others had been allegedly violated with impunity by the very personnel charged with the responsibility of protecting the lives and property of citizens,” the NHRC boss was quoted in the statement.
The police had announced the arrest of 21-year-old Ms Okolie, accusing her of being complicit in “the series of deliberate and well-coordinated attacks” on security formations and other critical national infrastructures in the South-east and South-south regions.
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The deputy public relations officer of the police, Aremu Adeniran, said Ms Okolie was arrested in Imo State, adding that she had aided the police in the arrest of one of the ESN’s top leader they identified as Onye Army.
PREMIUM TIMES reported that Ms Okolie’s arrest comes amidst reduced attacks by gunmen believed to be ESN members in the South-east and South-south regions of Nigeria.
The attacks on security formations and government establishments went from as high as more than one in a day to less than one in two weeks.
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