A pan-Ijaw organization, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), has flayed the continued detention, without trial, of Niger Deltans by the Department of State Security (DSS), describing it as a breach of the Niger Delta peace process.
The IYC made its position know in a statement signed by its President, Mr. Eric Omare.
The group pointed out that during the fact-finding and confidence-building tour of the Niger Delta region by the Acting President, Mr. Yemi Osinbajo, the people of the region demanded the release of those in detention in connection with the resurgent militancy in the region. The Federal Government, noted IYC, promised to look into the case and actually freed some former Niger Delta militants from detention.
Despite this gesture, IYC said the DSS has continued to detain some other Niger Delta agitators, including those whose release had been ordered by courts.
"The case of ex-militant leader, Mr. Sely Kile Torugbedi (alias Young Shall Grow), is most pathetic and unjust. The Federal High Court, Abuja, presided over by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, on the 5 August, 2016, made an order for the immediate release of Mr. Torugbedi from DSS custody.
"However, almost a year after the order was made, the DSS is still holding Mr. Torugbedi in custody," said IYC.
The group added that the DSS has also treated Mr. Daniel Ezekiel, an Ijaw activist, in a similar fashion by serially refusing to appear at the Federal High Court, Warri, despite several hearing notices served on the Service at its headquarters in Abuja. The IYC equally pointed out that Mr. Alex Odogu, spokesman of its Abuja chapter, Mr. Jones Abiri, a Yenagoa-based journalist, and many others have been detained for over a year without trial.
"These persons were all arrested in connection with the Niger Delta agitation and since government has decided to adopt a negotiated settlement of the Niger Delta agitation, these persons ought to be released as part of the peace process. It even amounts to a breach of trust for the government to promise peaceful dialogue while at the same time unnecessarily keeping people in detention," fumed IYC.
It added that the leaders of the Niger Delta region have fulfilled their own end of the bargain by restoring relative peace in the region, saying it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to sustain it.
The group called on the acting President to order the release of Messrs. Torugbedi, Ezekiel, Odogu, Abiri and all other Niger Deltans by the DSS in connection with the Niger Delta hostilities.
"Acting President Yemi Osinbanjo should note that his reputation is on trial in the face of these violations of human rights as a law professor and Senior Advocate of Nigeria. Nigerians and the international community are watching," IYC stated.