Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria,(HURIWA) on Saturday, slammed the Nigeria Police Force for its continuous persecution of 21-year-old Gloria Okolie, who was erroneously arrested for allegedly being a spy for the Indigenous People of Biafra.
HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, lambasted the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, over the rearrest of the young lady despite that a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had granted her bail and she had perfected her bail conditions.
The 21-year-old was released in March after being detained for nine months since June 17, 2021, by the Nigerian police for allegedly being a spy for IPOB’s Eastern Security Network, an allegation that has proven false.
Okolie was earlier detained at the Intelligence Response Team office in Owerri, Imo State before she was transferred to Abuja and subjected to dehumanising treatment including being turned to a maid, washing and cooking in detention, amongst other rights violation, as said by an activist, Harrison Gwamnishu.
The activist also published cash transaction slips of N220,000 allegedly collected by the policemen from Okolie’s relations for her release but she was held back and her rights contravened.
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on November 23, 2021, had granted bail to Okolie in the sum of N10 million with two sureties and she had perfected the bail conditions but the police didn’t release her till March.
To the shock of many observers, Okolie was rearrested days after her release friom the Suleja correctional centre in Niger State in March after about nine months in detention. According to reports, Okolie was rearrested by the Imo State Police Command when she went to a bank in Owerri to withdraw some of her money.
Reacting to the continuous violation of Okolie’s rights and the gross disregard for court orders by operatives of the Nigeria Police Force, HURIWA’s Onwubiko asked all persons of conscience and gender advocates to rise and defend the innocent young lady persecuted by the police for no justifiable reason.
Onwubiko said, “The continuous mistreatment, enslavement, imprisonment of Gloria Okolie has become unbecoming and should stop forthwith.
“It is worrisome that the police in its characteristic manner again shunned a Federal High Court order of November 23, 2021 granting Okolie bail but the overzealous and lawless policemen under IGP Usman Baba went ahead to rearrest Okolie who was granted bail by the court.
“The illegality of the action of the police is glaring in Section 36 (5) of the Nigerian Constitution that states that every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty.
“The penchant of the police for gross violations of the human rights of innocent Nigerians such as Okolie must be condemned as reprehensible and despicable by men and women of good conscience. It is no longer news that the brutality and extrajudicial killings of citizens by the police, especially the men of the IRT formerly under detained head of the team, Abba Kyari, who was notorious for rights violation, instigated the #EndSARS protests in October 2020.
“HURIWA recalled that judicial panels of inquiry awarded multibillion-naira compensation bills of the over 2,500 victims of police brutality against the NPF but till date a chunk of this money have not been paid to the victims.
“HURIWA further calls on the National Human Rights Commission as well as rights organisations to rise up and defend the right of Okolie grossly and flagrantly violated by the police and many other young women suffering police brutality and dehumanisation. The persecution of Okolie must stop immediately. The violation of citizens’ right must also stop. The IGP should warn his men. Nigeria is not a Banana Republic but a Federation founded on the Rule of Law and the tenets of democratic values.”
April 2, 2022
National Coordinator – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA)