Nigerian Army defies court order, keeps gov’s aide in detention

By Olalekan Awojodu

Despite a Federal High Court  order that the Nigerian Army  should release unconditionally a Nigerian citizen, and Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Security matters to the Enugu State Governor, Tochukwu Cornelius Okeke, the Nigerian Army has continued to keep him in its detention.

The order was given seven days ago via a court verdict by Justice AT Mohammed of the Port Harcourt Division.

Justice Mohammed order was sequel upon a motion exparte filed and moved by Chinedum Agwaramgbo on behalf of the applicant.

Okeke is alleged to have been kept unlawfully in detention under the instructions of the General officer commanding ( GOC) 82 Mechanised Division Enugu, Major General Taoreek Lagbaja, as the Nigerian Army had earlier failed to produce him in court before the court ordered his release. 

The have also frowned at the conduct of the G.O.C, Maj. Gen. Lagbaja for failing to produce the suspect in court. 

The respondents in the matter were equally ordered to appear and show cause why the applicant should not be granted bail or be released unconditionally  from custody.

Justice Mohammed however directed the applicant to serve all the processes relating to the case on the respondents.

According to the supporting affidavit attached to the motion, Okeke was arrested by officers of the respondents for allegedly belonging to the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and it’s Eastern Security Network(ESN).

Mr. Anih Stanley Nkem who deposed to the affidavit stated that he made frantic efforts to secure the release of Okeke but was not successful as the officers of the respondents insisted that they were yet to conclude their investigations and would not release him yet.

Nkem told the court that the last time he set his eyes on him was on July 22, 2021 and he was looking disheveled, disoriented, emanciated and sickly.

That presently, the applicant is having difficulty in recognizing persons he knows and is complaining of lack of good food, water and that the respondents have refused him access to his personal physician.

Upon the failure of the respondents to produce the Applicant in court, and appear to show cause why the Applicant should not be released on bail or unconditionally, the Honourable Court made an order on the August 10, 2021 for the release of the Applicant from the cell of the respondents which order it had continued to disobey in utter contempt of the sanctity of the Courts.

According to court documents made available to Gavel International Judiciary Correspondent in Abuja, Olalekan Awojodu, Okeke who had been in the Military’s custody since July 5, has also been denied access to his phone and his doctors, despite his failing health.

Okeke was allegedly whisked away from the Akanu Ibiam International Airport by military men on his way home, in his testimony before the court, informed that the military interrogated him and tortured him despite not having any evidence against him, even after conducting numerous searches in his apartment.

The court documents further noted that the applicant despite referral from the Military hospital, has been refused a CCT brain scan.

Okeke’s case and many other daredevil cases this medium gathered have dragged on with or without the knowledge of the Cheif of Army Staff.

However, when contacted on phone, Maj. Gen. Lagbaja deferred speaking on the matter, and instead refered our correspondent to the Spokesman of the Nigerian Army. 

“He is not under detention on my orders. He is being detained by the Nigerian Army. This is not my father’s Army, it is the Nigerian Army. I will not speak on the matter, thank you,” he said.

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