Mr. Nnaemeka Ejiofor, a human rights lawyer, has expressed concern about the enforced disappearance of 24 people who were arrested by security agents on suspicion of having ties to the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu.
Ejiofor, who briefed journalists in Abuja on the situation, bemoaned the fact that some of the missing people, whom he said were arrested from their homes in August 2021, have not been seen and have not been charged in any court.
“The offences of these men and women are that they are members of the IPOB or close associates of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“None of these victims of enforced disappearance have received anything like trial since their arrests.
“None of them has ever been allowed to contact their lawyers or family and all judicial efforts made to see them or get them released have been illegally thwarted and frustrated.
“These 24 identified victims are just a fraction of the number of persons who were arrested and disappeared as so many very gory and scary reports of extra judicial execution, murder in the cruelest manner such as by suffocation, starvation and or summary execution abound”, Ejiofor stated.
According to the senior lawyer, among those that are being detained, included a 20-year old lady, Joy Godwin Udoh, also known as Idara Gold.
He narrated how Miss Udoh who hails from Akwa-Ibom state, was arrested on her birthday by operatives of the Department of State Service, DSS, at the home of her fiance, for allegedly wearing a dress that was considered the colour of the Biafran flag.
“She went to celebrate her birthday with her fiance when officers of the state security service stormed the house in search of her fiance, Mazi Chuks Egwuatu. She was arrested alongside all the siblings of her fiance.
“While her fiance’s siblings were released after about five days in detention, she was transferred to Abuja office of the SSS on the 16th day of November, 2021.
“Joy Udoh’s offence was that she dressed in a certain coloured dress for her birthday and the SSS concluded that such coloured dress was advertising and influencing for the IPOB.
“Joy, like others before and after her, was transferred to a military holding cell without an order of court and contrary to all known laws in Nigeria”, Ejiofor insisted.
He decried that despite an order of the Federal High Court in Abuja, the DSS, denied the detained lady access to her lawyers and had since then, failed to produce her in court.
“Till today, we do not know where Joy Godwin Udoh is, neither has any of us, including her family, been able to see or meet or hear from her”.
Ejiofor further listed 11 persons; Barrister Pius Awoke, Fortune Okezie, Chinedu Nwoba, Chinomso Onyeibe, Eze Joseph, David Ogbonnaya, Ajah Joseph, Igwe Johnson, Kenneth Ojima, Wisdom Ezika Nwambana and Uket Godwin, he said were arrested on July 26, 2021, while on their way to Ebonyi State after they appeared in court to witness Kanu’s trial.
“After the case of Kanu on the said date at the Federal High Court, Abuja, they boarded two vehicles back to Ebonyi State only to be intercepted by a Navy Unit stationed at Lokoja, Kogi State.
“They were held down at the checkpoint for over five hours till a team of the SSS came to take them back to Abuja.
“Upon being sued in court to challenge their arrest and detention, they were said to have been transferred to WAWA Military Barracks in Niger State.
“Neither their lawyers nor their families have seen them or spoken to them nor have they been brought before any court for trial”.
Others Ejiofor included in the list of alleged IPOB members that were arrested and are yet to been seen, are; Ikechukwu Henry, Emeka Ngonadi, Kingsley Onovu, Ogbonna David, Emmanuel Onyibe Chinomso, Ogbonna Christian Ndubisi, Eze Ernest Chukwuemeka, Ibeleme Tochukwu, Emmanuel Ike, Rev. Cletus Whole, Chinonso Anyanwu, Kelechi Okeke, Godspower Chilemu and Chukwuma Nwaokike.
“We want the federal government to do the right thing by producing these victims and releasing them to their families with apologies and compensation”, Ejiofor added.
Among those at the media briefing, included wives, children and relatives of some of the detainees.