10 ship crew members detained illegally by Navy — Falana

Femi-Falana

Femi Falana. PHOTO: SHIPS & PORTS archive

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has raised alarm over the illegal detention of 10 crew members of a ship by the Nigerian Navy since October 27, 2018.

The lawyer recalled that when the 10 detainees were arrested seven months ago, they were crew members aboard a vessel called NESO II, which was allegedly hijacked by a gang of pirates.

Falana said the detainees were rescued while the pirates were arrested by the Beecroft Naval Base.

“Curiously, the crew members, who were not indicted in the investigation conducted by the Nigerian Navy into the hijacking of the vessel, have since been detained aboard the ship in Marina, Lagos, in breach of their fundamental rights to personal liberty and fair hearing guaranteed by sections 35 and 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended).”

In a letter dated May 10, 2019, he requested the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to seek their release from the naval authorities.

This brought to 25 the number of military personnel and civilians allegedly being held in the detention of naval authorities since last year.

The lawyer said the detainees were being held on the orders of the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas.

Falana also requested the AGF to prosecute the CNS for subjecting the detainees to physical and mental torture, contrary to the provisions of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017.

He listed the detainees as Oloyede Ademola Yisau, Omogoye Wasiu Bolaji, Edu Fidelis, Richard David, Mike Simeon, Umoren Daniel, Okoghene Asaiki, Udom Victor, James Archibong and Umon Godswill Emmanuel.

Falana said since the detainees had not been charged with any criminal offence before any competent court, “We are compelled to request you to direct the CNS to release them from unlawful custody without any further delay”.

“Take notice that if you fail to accede to our request within 48 hours of the receipt of this letter, we shall not hesitate to file an application at the Federal High Court to secure the enforcement of the fundamental rights of the detainees to personal liberty, dignity, fair hearing and movement and seek an order of mandamus to compel you to prosecute of the Chief of Naval Staff,” he said.