The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Abuja, on Friday, gave the Nigerian police an ultimatum to either charge Glory Okorie, an alleged spy for the Eastern Security Network (ESN), to court or release her.
Miss Okorie was arrested by the operatives of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT), a tactical unit of the police, on June 17, 2021 in Imo State and subsequently transferred to Abuja.
Detained without charge since her arrest, the suspect has now been in illegal custody for 71 days as of Friday.
In his ruling on an ex parte application filed by the detainees’ lawyers, the judge, Sylvester Okorie, on Friday, ordered the respondents – police authorities – to charge her to court on or before August 31, 2021, should their be any case against her.
In the alternative to the order directing the police to charge the suspect, the court ordered the respondents to release Miss Okorie on bail in the sum of N2million with a surety.
Mr Oriji said the surety must be a civil servant not less than Grade Level 12 in the federal civil service.
“It is hereby ordered as follows that, the respondents shall charge the application to court on or before 31 August, 2021, if they have any case against her.
“If the applicant is not charged to court as aforesaid, the respondents are ordered to release her on bail upon fulfilment of the following conditions.
“The applicants shall enter a bail bond in the sum of N2,000,000 with one surety in like sum, to report to the respondents whenever they are ready to charge her to court,” the court held.
The suspect’s lawyer, Ihensekhein Samuel, had filed the application on August 24, specifically, suing the Inspector General of Police, Tunde Disu, a deputy commissioner of police heading the IRT, and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), as the respondents.
He had urged the court to order the release of Miss Okorie on bail from unlawful incarceration by the police for over two months.
Public outcry over Okolie’s detention
Last Tuesday, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) demanded the release of Miss Okorie’s release from illegal police detention which had lasted about 71 days as of Friday.
Reacting to the development in Abuja, the Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Tony Ojukwu, said the only alternative open to the police was 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 had 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.
Similarly, Amnesty International, which had called for her release on Monday, said she was apprehended by the Intelligence Response Team (IRT), a tactical unit of the Nigerian police, headed by Tunde Disu 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.
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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.
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 had 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.
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