A civil society organisation, the Rule of Law And Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), has called on the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to embark on an independent audit of detention cells in all police formations in Imo State, particularly, the cells of Tiger Base of the Inspector-General of Police's Intelligence Response Team (IRT).
According to Okechukwu Nwanguma, Executive Director of RULAAC, several persons in the state have been missing and their whereabouts unknown to their relatives.
The NHRC was established by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) ACT, 1995 as amended to deal with all matters relating to promotion, protection and enforcement of human rights in Nigeria.
The statement read, “It has become imperative that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), in keeping with its mandate and powers under the amended NHRC Act 2010, undertakes or is mandated by the President to undertake immediate visit to police cells in Imo State, particularly, the cells of Tiger Base of the Inspector-General of Police's Intelligence Response Team (IRT).
“Section 6(1d) of the amended NHRC Act states that the Commission shall have powers to (d) visit persons, Police cells and other places of detention in order to ascertain the condition thereof and make recommendations to the appropriate authorities.
“Several people, especially young people in imo State have been missing and their whereabouts unknown to their relatives. Some have either been executed and their dead bodies deposited in mortuaries or are secretly detained and tortured at the IRT Tiger Base office, Owerri, Imo State and possibly at other locations.
“Recall that the commercial motorcyclist who revealed Gloria Okorie's detention at the IRT Tiger Base office in Owerri Imo State after he was himself released from the same facility after two weeks in detention was quoted as saying that many others were similarly being detained at the base and their relatives do not know their whereabouts.
“Recent unconfirmed information making the rounds has it that one Anyanwu Amarachi Amos has been detained at the same 'State CID OWERRI (TIGER ZONE)' for the past two months and has been severely tortured. The message was said to have been passed through one of the recently released inmates at the IRT Tiger Base, Owerri. The messenger further revealed that Amarachi's people are not aware of his whereabouts 'and he has been totured to the extent that he cannot stand and walk on his feet. Please lets save our innocent brother'.”
RULAAC added that the case of the secret detention of “Gloria Okorie, the 21-year-old student from Imo State who was arrested along with the commercial motorcyclist conveying her and secretly detained at the Tiger Base office of the IRT in Owerri and her subsequent transfer to the Abuja headquarters of the IRT” remained unresolved as the police continued to disobey te court orders.
RULAAC said, “Gloria, a student, had just written the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Examination (JAMB) before her arrest. IRT suddenly labelled her a spy girl for IPOB following public outcry over her continued incommunicado detention and calls for her release or arraignment in court.
“An Abuja High Court had ordered the police to arraign her in court or release her on conditional bail within a specified period which has long elapsed.
“Attempt by the IRT to get the court to vacate its order on them to release Gloria was turned down and the court reiterated its orders which the police are yet to comply with till date.
“The silence by the Inspector General of Police, the Attorney-General of the Federation and the President over this travesty and blatant disrespect to Court orders defines the rule of law profile of the Buhari regime. The activities of the IRT in Imo State have become a serious cause for concern. Hundreds of youths have been reportedly killed, disappeared or held in secret, incommunicado detention by IRT.
“While some of the 'lucky' ones are extorted of huge sums of money before they are released, many others are held without their families knowing their whereabouts. In cases where their families find out and come for their release, they are denied access. Even lawyers are not allowed to see their clients. Many of the detainees are tortured and held in conditions that amount to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment.
“We wonder why the IRT has continued to maintain a base in Imo State after the IGP in July 2020, ordered the disbandment of the satellite bases of the IRT and other tactical units of the NPF in response to popular outrage over their atrocities.”