By Family Writers/Agency Reports
– It has emerged that the 114 young and elderly Igbo women (including nursing mothers, pregnant ones and grandmothers) arrested and detained in Owerri since August 17, 2018 were arrested on the orders of Imo Governor Rochas Okorocha. It will be recalled that when the women were arraigned on Monday, August 20, it was to an Imo Magistrate Court they were charged, not a Federal High Court. What this means is that it is the government of Imo State, not Federal government that is prosecuting and thus has the final say on whether the prosecution should have proceeded or not.
The protesting grandmothers who had hit the streets of Owerri, the capital of Imo State recently to protest the forced disappearance of the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra [IPOB], Prince Nnamdi Kanu were arrested by the security forces and detained in police custody.
On Monday, they were presented at the Magistrate court in Owerri where the magistrate declined jurisdiction to grant them bail because they were supposedly charged with offences beyond her jurisdiction, offence of conspiracy to commit treasonable felony under section 41 c of the Criminal code, etc; and as such, she ordered them to be remanded in prison custody pending advice from the Imo State Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
The detainees were defended by a trio of IPOB lawyers comprising of Barristers Aloy Ejimakor, Ifeanyi Ejiofor and Emenalo. They led a team of other lawyers that included Augustine Ezeokeke and others.
Speaking to the press, the lawyers said that they “will be filing applications for their bail on Thursday this week, before the IMO state high court that has jurisdiction to entertain the frivolous charges”.
According to Barrister Ejimakor, “These innocent women broke no laws of Nigeria or of Imo State. In sum, they were merely expressing their rights under Nigeria Law. That right is the Right to Self Determination guaranteed under Chapter A9, Laws of Federation of Nigeria, which states that: “All peoples shall have the unquestionable and inalienable right to SELF-DETERMINATION. Oppressed people shall have the right to free themselves from the bonds of domination by resorting to any means recognized by the international community”. Article 1 of same Law provides that the State “shall recognize the rights, duties and freedom enshrined in this Charter and shall undertake to adopt legislative or other measures to give effect to them”. Yet, these fine young and elderly mothers were charged for TEN offenses for merely expressing this right and taken to Magistrate Court that the government knows has no jurisdiction. This is a wicked trick to get as much jail time as possible before the High Court convenes to consider their bail applications. All men and women of goodwill must rise to condemn this double injustice. It could’ve been you“.
The counsels continued to query the ridiculousness of the case against the protesting grandmothers. Hear Barrister Ejiofor “How can the government accused aged and nursing mothers of planning to overthrow the government of the day by this very charge? Doesn’t that sound ridiculous?”.
Continuing, the lawyers stated that “Mothers who were merely exercising their constitutional guaranteed rights to freedom of Assembly provided for under section 40 of the constitution. By the very rally the mothers conducted, they were merely protesting about their unjust, unfair and inequitable treatment and consequently demanding that the leader of IPOB (Nnamdi Kanu) who was kidnapped in his home on the 14th day of September 2017 be produced by Government”.
Family members and IPOB activists who visited IPOB detained Women remanded in Owerri Prisons, were banned and forced to go back with items brought for the Women.
Husbands to The Pregnant Mother’s, Grand Children to Aged Mothers and Hypertensive Mother’s, were denied access to the Women. Armoured Tanks was also mounted at the entrance of the Prison Gate and Security agents, forced the visitors out. The only people allowed into the Prisons for visitation, are those who came to see none IPOB activists.
The human right violation acts in Owerri Prisons today being the 21st Of August 2018, brought about chaos in the Prisons, which compelled the DCP and other Prison Officials to address angry Family members of the detained IPOB Women. In his statement; ”We have been ordered not to allow visitation of the IPOB Women remanded here. Take the Food back, until further notice”.
All perishable Food items, Drugs, Clothes were rejected by the Prison officials and taken home by the Family members. The Women who were brutalised by the security agents and remanded in Prisons, are forced to suffer, as ordered by the Nigerian and Imo State Governments.