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Nigerian Navy Still Illegally Keeping In Detention 22 People Freed By Court –Centre Against Impunity Alleges

"That the Nigerian Navy appealed the decision up to the appeal court and the Supreme Court and lost. Rather than comply with the lawful order of the court as affirmed by both the court of appeal and the Supreme Court, the Nigerian Navy resorted to self-help with the sole aim of denying them the fruit of their judgment."


The Centre Against Impunity, a civil society group, has kicked against the illegal arrest and unlawful detention of 22 Nigerians by the Nigerian Navy, describing it as an of impunity.

A statement issued in Lagos on Thursday and signed by Comrade Shina Loremikan said 22 people were sacked, arrested and detained illegally by the navy.

He said after the dismissal of one Captain Labinjo and Lt Commander Ibe Lambert and the 20 others, the armed force was ordered by a federal high court and the Supreme Court to reinstate but the victims.

However, the naval authorities have refused to obey the court orders.

"The Nigerian Navy rather than comply with the said order of release surreptitiously removed all the detainees to an unknown location," Loremikan said.

The names of the detainees are Captain D.O Labinjo,  Lt. Commander Sherifat Ibe Lambert, Segun Yusuf, Benjamin Gold, Petter Pulle, Pius Paul, Onoja Reuben, Adeleke Adewale, Labinjo Kehinde, Ogunmoyero Oluwaseun, Emmanuel Oputa, and Innocent Sunday, Lejoro Friday.

Others are Hamza Yakubu, Master Melvin Jack, Chief Mate Adebayo Mayowa, Chief Mate Francis Onyema, Engr Godwill Umoh, Bosin Miebaka Iyala, Edu Fidelis, Richard David, and Daniel Harrison.

"We act for and on behalf of the above-listed persons and their distraught families to bring to the fore the injustice meted to them," Loremikan added.

Continuing in the statement, he said: "That the said dismissal was held unlawful by the federal high court of Nigeria and both Captain D O Labinjo and Lt Commander Ibe Lambert were ordered to be reinstated.

"That the Nigerian Navy appealed the decision up to the appeal court and the Supreme Court and lost. Rather than comply with the lawful order of the court as affirmed by both the court of appeal and the Supreme Court, the Nigerian Navy resorted to self-help with the sole aim of denying them the fruit of their judgment."

He further alleged that the naval authority began a systemic and deliberate physical, emotional and psychological attacks on Labinjo, his wife, children, friends, and businesses.

"The arrest and detention were effected by an ex parte order from a magistrate's court. However, after three months and the magistrate being made aware of the true fact of the case, the said magistrate court vacated the order of arrest and detention and ordered the release of all the detainees forthwith," the statement added.

The detainees, Loremikan reiterated, had approached the court for an order enforcing their fundamental rights. This was granted with the court directing the Nigerian Navy to release the detainees.

"That all detainees have been denied access to their solicitors, doctors and family members and that the denial by the Naval Authority of the whereabouts of these detainees raises grave concern for their safety and well-being.

"That it is sad that in a democracy, Nigerian citizens were detained for almost a year without bail or trial contrary to the provision of the constitution," the statement pointed out.

"One is bound, therefore, to ask why the Nigerian Navy is refusing to obey the order of the federal high court," said Loremkina, "directing the release of all these Nigerian citizens. Is Nigerian Navy above the constitution?"

He noted further: "It’s appalling that Nigerian Navy that is supposed to set a good example for other institutions to follow, but they have instead shown flagrant disobedience to a lawful court order by openly promoting lawlessness in our nation from the vantage point of their power and position."

In 2001, Labinjo and his wife were indicted and charged before a general court-martial. They were tried and convicted for the offence of disobedience of orders contrary to Section 57  of the Armed Forces Decree No 105 of 1993; conduct prejudicial to good order and service discipline contrary to Section 103 (1) of the Armed Forces Decree No 105 of 1993; scandalous conduct contrary to Section 91 of the Armed Forces Decree No 105 of 1999 all as amended. 

In response to his being brought before the court-martial, he applied to the Federal High Court in Lagos, asking for a review of the composition of the court-martial.

On May 3, 2004, the court granted him his appeal and ordered his reinstatement. It ruled that the conviction by the court-martial was "null and void".

On May 30, 2004, the Navy filed an appeal to the court of appeal in Lagos.

On May 12, 2005, the court of appeal struck out the case for  "want of diligent prosecution". 

The counsel to the Navy failed to show up in the court on the day the judgment was struck out.

On June 1, 2012, the Supreme Court, led by former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, unanimously ruled that the case brought by the Navy had no merit. 

Onnoghen had said in his lead judgment that the lower court whose judgment the navy sought to set aside, was rightly struck out as it appeared that the appellant was trying to stall the trial in order to stop the respondent from enjoying the "fruits of the judgment in his favour by the lower court".

In September 2018, the navy stormed Labinjo’s compound, arrested him, his wife and 20 staff, as detailed by the Centre Against Impunity.

In May 2019, Femi Falana, human right lawyer, wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari, requesting his intervention and the prosecution of the naval officers involved. 

The navy had earlier in that month denied knowing the whereabouts of 15 of the detainees, saying they had disappeared from custody.

Falana’s letter to Buhari contained 40 detainees. 

He said some were detained in a vessel, while others were held in Abuja.

The navy is also refusing to reinstate Labinjo and his wife or pay the N50,000 awarded to Labinjo by the Supreme Court.