Obiageli Ezekwesili, former Minister of Education, has condemned the arrest of 112 women in Owerri.
The women, members of the Women Wing of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), had embarked on a protest on Friday to demand a referendum and request the whereabouts of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the group.
Following the protest, they were arrested and charged to court for “treasonable felony” on Monday. The Magistrate Court, however, said it couldn’t decide on bail for the women and the women have been in detention since then. The Magistrate Court had adjourned the case till September 3, pending advice from the Attorney-General of the state.
Condemning the arrest, Ezekwesili noted that their continued stay in detention was a “blight on democracy”.
A series of tweets via her handle, @obyezeks, read: “IG @PoliceNG, how in the world did you put this level of blight on our Democracy with this saga of the protesting Imo women? I read that “the Magistrate says her #court lacks jurisdiction, adjourns till 3 Sept for attorney general’s advice. #Women remanded in #prison.” Wow. How?
“Since the Magistrate Court is within Imo State Government jurisdiction, is it safe to assume that the magistrate is seeking the advice of the State Attorney General? Is it then fair that those #ImoWomenProtesters will be in prison UNTIL early September? For WHAT OFFENSE precisely?”
She also urged Rochas Okorocha, the Imo State Governor, and President Muhammadu Buhari to see to the “immediate release of those women from jail”.
The posts read: “How can Governor of Imo State, under whose leadership the State Attorney General functions not have seen the INJUSTICE of this UNCONSTITUTIONAL action of the @PoliceNG against the #ImoWomenProtesters? Ask the AG to counter-file & seek IMMEDIATE RELEASE of those women from jail!!
“Pls is @AsoRock ‘s @NGRPresident @MBuhari aware of this UNCONSTITUTIONAL act of his staff, the IG @PoliceNG against the #ImoWomenProtesters? Remanded in JAIL until early September for PROTESTING? WOMEN JAILED FOR PROTESTING?? A GUARANTEED RIGHT? This is UNACCEPTABLE. #EndThisNOW.”
IG @PoliceNG , how in the world did you put this level of blight on our Democracy with this saga of the protesting Imo women? I read that âthe Magistrate says her #court lacks jurisdiction, adjourns till 3 Sept for attorney generalâs advice. #Women remanded in #prison.â Wow. How? pic.twitter.com/567eBCDUO2— Oby Ezekwesili (@obyezeks) August 23, 2018
The arrest of the women has sparked uproar in the state and on social media, with many condemning the arrest and demanding their release.