Human Rights group kick against detention of protesting women in Owerri
A human rights group, International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, popularly known as Intersociety and a coalition of professionals in Nigeria and the Diaspora, Igbo Ekunie Initiative, have called on the Federal and Imo State governments to discontinue and discharge all the 10-count spurious charges of “treasonable felony, conspiracy to commit treasonable felony, terrorism,etc, slammed on the incarcerated 114 mothers of the Igbo nation in Imo State.
They wondered why the magistrate, Mrs S.K. Durumba before whom the arrested women were charged in Owerri would refuse to discharge and acquit the women or at least grant them bail as prescribed under the law especially as she made it clear in her ruling that her court had no jurisdiction to entertain the suit brought before her.
They further noted that the Supreme Court had declared the unconstitutionality of “Holden Charge,” upon which the 114 women were arraigned and demanded by a magistrate court that has no jurisdiction to hear the case. The women are aged between 22 and 70.
Intersociety in a statement yesterday by its board chairman, Mr Emeka Umeagbalasi, said: “We also demand for their immediate and unconditional release from the Owerri Prison custody and discontinuation of further harassment of such vulnerable members of the society.
“The incarcerated Mothers of Igbo Nation also deserve apologies and reparative packages for their wrongful detention and being labeled “terrorists” and “felons” in government’s panicky and draconian response to their use of “braziers as human rights kits” to protest government’s sundry atrocities against their children and husbands.”
Meanwhile Owerri Prison Authority, confirmed that relatives of the pro-Biafra women remanded in the prison were not allowed access to the women because documentation was still ongoing.
Speaking to Vanguard newspapers, the Public Relations Officer, PRO, Imo State Command, Nigeria Prison Service, DSP James Madugba also said the relations would be allowed to visit the women in the prison after their documentation.
He said: “On Monday, over 100 people mostly women were brought to the prison environment by officers of the Nigeria Police Force who came with warrants from the magistrate courts for us to keep these people in safe custody.
“They came around 5pm. Then, we started recording them and we left office late at about 10pm, including the officer in charge of the place. “On Tuesday, we continued their documentation. In the process of the documentation, some of their people came to visit them.
“Truly, it is their right to have their relatives visit them. They are also allowed to bring items that are not prohibited. There is nothing wrong in coming to see their relatives but they couldn’t see them earlier because a proper documentation has not been done before they came.”
“Even the Deputy Controller of Prisons in charge of Owerri Prison came out himself and addressed them and told them that it was not ideal to allow people to visit them when they have not been properly documented.”