By Onozure Dania
No fewer than 36 civil society organisations, have called on Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, to intervene in the case of detained Gloria Okorie, suspected Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, informant, who has been held by the police for over 100 days.
The CSOs in the letter, said: “We, the undersigned human rights and civil society organisations in Nigeria, write to you most respectfully regarding Gloria Okorie, the 21-year-old female from Imo State who has been in police detention for over 100 days.
“Gloria was arrested on June 17, 2021, and detained secretly by the Inspector-General of Police’s Intelligence Response Team, IRT, at their Tiger Base office in Owerri, Imo State, before she was transferred to the Abuja headquarters of IRT.
“For 100 days, the Police have continued to stubbornly and contemptuously detain Gloria in defiance of several legitimate efforts to release her, including a court order on the police to release her on bail or immediately charge her to court, repeated pleas and efforts by her parents, family members and lawyers to secure her bail, civil society demands for her release on the grounds of her constitutional rights under Nigeria’s 1999 constitution as well as public outcry and media reports and critical commentaries over her continued detention by the Police in flagrant violation of the law.
This is an indictment on the rule of law credentials of the government.
“Your Excellency, for weeks, Gloria’s parents and relatives searched for their daughter, running from community to community, hospitals to morgues, police station to police station, and churches, in search of any lead until her whereabouts was eventually disclosed by a commercial motorcyclist that was arrested alongside with Gloria two weeks earlier.
“This Good Samaritan traced Gloria’s family to inform them of the location of their ‘missing’ daughter.
“The police issued a belated and face-saving statement through their public relations unit claiming that Gloria was a spy girl for IPOB/ESN.
“This was in response to public outrage over her secret detention and enslavement for 70 days without charging her to court as required by law and causing her and her parents and community serious trauma.
“Your excellency, for the 100 days in unlawful detention, the IRT has stripped Gloria of every fundamental right guaranteed under the Nigeria 1999 constitution.
“The rights to fair hearing. Rights to speedy trial. Rights to legal representation. Presumption of innocence until convicted by a competent court.
“Rights to dignity. For 100 days, Gloria has been denied access to family. She has been denied access to a lawyer.
“With the conduct of the IRT, it is safe to conclude that the Police has already convicted Gloria even without a trial. They have deliberately and consistently kept Gloria incommunicado.
“The Police have also continued to conduct itself with impunity despite public outcry and repeated civil society calls for Gloria’s release or immediate arraignment in court.
“Not even a court order on the Police, secured on behalf of Gloria will sway the Police.
“Instead, the Police have continued to stubbornly and contemptuously disregard the court order several weeks after the court’s deadline for her arraignment in court or release.
“The continued detention of Gloria without bail or charge should concern you and every Nigerian genuinely committed to the rule of law and public safety.
“Therefore, having exhausted all avenues to make the Police act in accordance with the law unsuccessfully, we are writing to you as a father, a Pastor and the Vice President.”
Law and Human gathered that matter has now been referred to the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, office by the Vice-President.
“It is also important to order an end to the predatory policing strategy ongoing in Imo State and to order an independent investigation into the fate and/or whereabouts of several other young people randomly picked up and taken away by the police in Imo State by IRT and other units in the pretext of searching for IPOB/ESN members.
”All young people in Imo State are certainly not IPOB/ESN members, and the Police should not continue to act on that premise or continue to turn the ‘war’ against IPOB into a war against the youth in Imo State or an opportunity to oppress and prey on residents of the state.”
The CSOs include Civic Space Consortium; Spaces for Change; Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre, RULAAC; Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development, FENRAD Nigeria; International Peace and Civic Responsibility Centre, IPCRC; Human Rights Social Development and Evironmental Foundation, HURSDEF; Public Enlightenment Project, PEP; Citizens’ Solution Network; Centre for Community Empowerment and Poverty Eradication, CCEPE; Dinidari Foundation; Agape Care Initiative, Centre for Impact Advocacy; Youth Initiative Against Violence and Human Rights Abuse, YIAVHA; Dorothy Njemanze Foundation, DNF; FEMBUD, The Interactive Initiative for Social Impact; Tap Initiative; Human Rights Defenders(Huride) Anambra State Chapter; among others.