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Coalition petitions Osinbajo over continued detention of Gloria Okorie by Police

A coalition of civil society organizations has petitioned Vice President Yemi Osinbajo over the continued indefinite detention of Gloria Okorie by the Nigeria Police and their flagrant disobedience to court orders to release her or charge her to court.

The 21-year-old Gloria from Imo State 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 has continued to detain her 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.

In a statement jointly signed by 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) and 31 other groups, Vice President Osinbajo was petitioned to use his good offices to intervene in the continuing detention of Gloria by the Police and help bring an end to the trauma and plight of her parents, family, and community.

The statement read in part: “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 right to fair hearing, right to speedy trial, right to legal representation, presumption of innocence until convicted by a competent court, and right 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 has 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 has continued to stubbornly and contemptuously disregard the court order several weeks after the court’s deadline for her arraignment in court or release.

“Your Excellency, public safety is seriously imperiled when the Police, as the primary law enforcement agency, constitutes itself into the despicable role of chief lawbreaker. For decades, the Police has remained a notorious institutional violator of human rights. Unfortunately, this culture carried over from colonial rule, through military rule now constitutes a major threat to our nascent democracy. Several writings on insecurity in Nigeria have identified the threats posed by police impunity to democracy and public safety.

“Your Excellency, you will recall the youth-led #EndSARS protest that shook the nation to its foundation in response to the excesses of the rogue Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS), the tragic incident of October 20, 2020 at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos that claimed many innocent lives of young people, and the consequent vandalization of public properties. The horrors and pains of that incident remain fresh in the hearts of many. But the protest and the outcry signify the ever-present danger an unaccountable police poses to the people and government. As a people and a fledgling democracy, we can ill afford a rogue, unaccountable and irresponsible police that continues to revel in impunity while sowing more hatred and distrust for the Police institution among Nigerians.

“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 of the country to kindly use your good offices to intervene in the continuing detention of Gloria by the Police and help bring an end to the trauma and plight of her parents, family, and community.”

The coalition also informed the Vice President of a vengeful move, saying that the police had to lure back to the station the commercial motorcyclist that revealed Gloria’s whereabouts, re-arrested and mercilessly brutalized him while his whereabouts remain unknown.

It added that there are speculations that he may have been killed for disclosing that Gloria and other detainees have been secretly held in IRT custody in Owerri, Imo State.

The coalition charged the Vice President to ensure that the police be made to account for his whereabouts.

It also demanded an end to the “predatory policing strategy” ongoing in Imo State, adding that an independent investigation should be order into the fate and 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 all 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 statement added.

 

 

 

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