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DSS Detaining Suspected IPOB Member For Months Without Access To Family Members

His unjustified and prolonged detention contravenes the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution, Africa’s regional human rights instrument and the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.

When Mr Emeka Ngornadi woke up on the morning of Saturday, April 10, 2021 and set out from Lagos State with foodstuff and baby food items for his pregnant wife who was due for delivery in Anambra state in the Southeast, he did not envisage his journey would be cut short by officers of the Department of State Security (DSS) at Ore, Ondo State in the Southwest Nigeria, returned to Lagos, before being taken to Abuja. He also had no idea  he would be held for the next couple of months.  

After his unfateful arrest, Festus Ogun, his lawyer, had made a frantic call to the court through the filing of an application before the court for the enforcement of his fundamental rights which had been allegedly breached by the DSS.

According to the lawyer who had been denied access to his client by the DSS, Mr Ngornadi was arrested on the allegation of being a member of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

Mr Ngornadi is a married businessman and father of three children. He travels to Hong Kong and China to import and sell electronic appliances, with offices in Alaba International Market, Lagos and Nnewi Market, Anambra State. 

Mr Ngornadi’s condition of arrest and detention was made known to his family by one Mr Manasseh Paul Ben who had met Emeka at the DSS detention facility in Abuja. Before then they had no knowledge of his whereabouts for five months.

Mr Paul had also been detained in the Abuja facility of the DSS between July 4 and August 3, 2021. At Ngornadi’s request, Mr Paul reached out to the former’s family after his release.

“It was after my release from unlawful detention by the DSS that I made contact with the Applicant’s relatives who became aware for the very first time that the applicant is being unlawfully held by the DSS,” Mr Paul told HumAngle.

Paul also said all efforts made by Mr Ngornadi to the DSS to allow him contact his family was met by brute force, which included torture and naked assault. 

While her husband was being held, Ngornadi’s wife lost her baby after it was delivered, a result of her husband’s incarceration, HumAngle gathered. The detainee’s three children, who are in the university, are confused and unable to focus on their academics. They worry about the possibility of seeing their father again; the sole breadwinner of the family. 

Currently, the detainee is unaware that his baby is dead.

The National Human Rights Commission NHRC, which serves as an extra-judicial mechanism for the respect of  human rights by Nigerians, when contacted about the case, told HumAngle, “we don’t comment on cases already in court.” The DSS also avoided comments and questions on the case when contacted. 

The detanee’s lawyer has, however, approached the Abuja Federal High Court to enforce Ngornadi’s fundamental rights to fair hearing, unlawful and unjustified detention, rights against inhumane treatment, torture, and rights to bail in line with the combined provisions of the Nigerian Constitution, African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and Adminstration of Criminal Justice Act.

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