A group in the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) the Section on Public Interest and Development Law (SPIDEL) has given the Nigeria Police Force a two-week ultimatum to release a 21-year-old Imo State woman, Gloria Okolie, who was arrested and detained for 72 days for allegedly having links with the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The victim’s plight was brought to the open by a Delta State-based rights activist, Harrison Gwamnishu, who posted on Facebook how Gloria was arrested in June by the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Team in Imo because her boyfriend is allegedly a member of IPOB’s militia wing, the Eastern Security Network (ESN) and has been detained since then.
Gwamnishu added that the victim had been turned into a sex slave and a housemaid by the police operatives who force her to cook and wash for them.
The Police, in a statement on Sunday, defended the illegal detention of Gloria, saying she was arrested for being a spy for both IPOB and ESN.
Part of the Police statement said that Glory was areested “for her complicity in the series of deliberate and well-coordinated attacks on security formations, other critical national infrastructure, including INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) offices and killing of security operatives in the South-Eastern part of the country.”
However, the NBA-SPIDEL in a statement on Monday signed by its Chairman, Monday Ubani, and made available to Ripples Nigeria, said it was shocking that the police admitted to detaining a suspect without trial for over 72 days.
He said, “Our attention has been drawn to the long and illegal detention of one Gloria Okolie by the Nigeria Police authorities for over 72 days for her friendship with an alleged IPOB member.
“It is further alleged that while she was under the police detention in Owerri, she was used as a slave (beast of burden) and terribly abused by the officers in charge of her detention.
“While these allegations are yet to be verified as no lawyer or relation had had access to her, we are of the candid opinion that there are many things wrong with this detention which we consider patently illegal, wickedly and appalling.
“What makes this matter more shocking is the latest press release of the current Inspector General of Police after over 72 days conceding to the arrest and illegal long detention on the grounds that she was providing information, drugs and weapons to the said IPOB members.
“According to the IGP, ‘further investigations by the police team revealed that Gloria Okolie takes advantage of her gender and seemingly innocuous looks as camouflage to carry out espionage against military and police targets on behalf of IPOB/ESN.’
“The truth of the matter is that if the IGP thinks that this explanation will justify this long and illegal detention of this young lady, it has further exposed the incompetence and illegality with which the security agencies carry out investigations in Nigeria.
“Assuming but not conceding that these ‘grave allegations’ are true, does this by any stretch of imagination, empower any security agency any right to detain a citizen for such length of time, thereby depriving her the constitutionally guaranteed rights of freedom of movement, rights of dignity of person and right of fair trial within a reasonable time as provided under 1999 constitution?
“Nay, her guaranteed rights of presumption of innocence until proven guilty has been destroyed permanently by this lengthy detention without any charge or arraignment.
“Nigeria’s security agencies are a big embarrassment to us as a nation, especially when we claim to be giant of Africa.
“It is absolutely wrong to arrest an individual and start sourcing for evidence for prosecution. It is not only archaic but patently criminal for police officers to indulge in this manner of primitive investigation of crime in this modern time.
“We are therefore giving the police authorities 14 days from today to charge Gloria Okolie to court if she has committed any known offence or release her unconditionally.
“We shall commence the enforcement of her fundamental rights which has been criminally violated if this request is not adhered to as usual by the police authorities. They are deemed adequately advised.
#FreeGloriaOkolieNow,” the statement added.