By Ikechukwu Odu
At least 63 residents of Obigbo in Rivers State have regained their freedom after four months in different security personnel dungeons in Abuja.
The residents who were rendered incommunicado throughout their period of captivity were freed following the consideration of a bail application filed on Wednesday, 10th February, 2021 before an Abuja Grade 11 Magistrate Court sitting in Wuse by a human rights lawyer, Barr. E.R Okoroafor.
This was contained in a statement made available to Vanguard by an Onitsha-based human rights group, the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, Intersociety, on Thursday.
According to the statement which was signed by the rights group’s Chairman of Board of Trustees, Emeka Umeagbalasi, and other principal officers, 53 other residents have been located in the DSS dungeons while searches are on to trace and free the remaining 140 others who were part of the 400 law-abiding residents of Obigbo while they were going about their lawful businesses between October and November, 2020.
Part of the statement reads “The International Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law-INTERSOCIETY is happily announcing another major breakthrough in its campaigns to expose and end a booklet of atrocity crimes that have ravaged the Nigerian Army particularly under the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai.
This time, the major breakthrough recorded was the release on Monday, 15th Feb 2021 of 63 Obigbo residents, all males.
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They were reportedly detained by the Nigerian Army at Obigbo in Rivers State and held incommunicado for four months or since Oct 2020 in Mogadishu Barracks and other security dungeons in Abuja.
“Their release followed the landmark consideration of their bail application filed on Wednesday, 10thFeb 2021 before an Abuja Grade 11 Magistrate Court sitting in Wuse.
“They were freed from four different Army, DSS and Police dungeons in Abuja and environs; namely: Mogadishu Army Barracks, Annex B at Asokoro, DSS Training Center at Central Business District and its abandoned facility at Zuba and the Nigeria Police College at Suleja in Niger State.
“The freed victims were part of over 400 innocent and defenceless Obigbo residents including over 60 girls and young women detained between Oct and Nov 2020 at their workplaces or on their way home from work or while engaging in other lawful social activities.
“The release of the 63 residents was made possible through the lawyerly and activist doggedness of Barr E.R. Okoroafor. Barr E.R. Okoroafor is a British citizen of Igbo nativity and international human rights lawyer.
“The efforts of the leadership of IPOB in this respect are also worthily recognized and appreciated.
“While it is hopeful that the newly located 53 young women in the DSS dungeons will soon regain their freedom, bringing the total number of the located or freed to 261; searches are still on to locate the remaining residents numbering over 140.
“This is owing to the fact that the Nigerian Army and DSS have refused to speak publicly on the whereabouts of the residents, the freed ones and why the over 400 residents were in the first place kept out of public knowledge till date.”
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