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63 Obigbo locals freed after 4 months in prison; Nigeria Army, DSS keep mute

63 residents from Obigbo in Rivers State were set free after being detained for four months in different detention facilities in Abuja.

The residents were allegedly not allowed to communicate with any persons all through the period they were kept in prison. They only got their freedom following a bail application filed by Barr. E.R. Okoroafar, a human rights lawyer on the 10th of February, 2021 before the Abuja Grade 11 Magistrate Court sitting in Wuse. 

On Thursday a statement was signed by Emeka Umeagbalasi, the human rights group’s Chairman of Board of Trustees and other principal officers, saying 53 other residents had been discovered in DSS custody while searches continue to locate and secure the release of the remaining 140 persons who were among the 400 law-abiding residents of Obigbo arrested between October and November 2020.  

The statement reads: “The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law INTERSOCIETY is happily announcing another major breakthrough in its campaigns to expose and end the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai. This time the major breakthrough recorded was the release on Monday, 15th February 2021 of 63 Obigbo residents, all males. 

They were reportedly detained by the Nigerian Army at Obigbo in Rivers State and held incommunicado for four months or since October 2020 in Mogadishu Barracks and other security dungeons in Abuja.

Their release followed the landmark consideration of their bail application filed on Wednesday, 10th February 2021 before an Abuja Grade 11 Magistrate Court sitting in Wuse. They were freed from four different Army, DSS, and Police dungeons in Abuja and environs, namely, Mogadishu Army Barracks, Annex B at Asokoro, DSS Training Center at Central Business District and its abandoned facility at Zuba, and the Nigeria Police College at Suleja in Niger State.   

The freed victims were part of over 400 innocent defenseless Obigbo residents including 60 girls and young women detained between October and November at their workplaces or on their way home from work or while engaging in other lawful social activities. The release of the 63 residents was made possible through the lawyerly and activist doggedness of Barr E.R Okoroafor.

Barr E.R Okoroafor is a British citizen of Igbo nativity and international human rights lawyer. The effort of the leadership of IPOB in this respect is also worthily recognized and appreciated. While it is hopeful that the newly located 53 young women in the DSS dungeons will soon regain their freedom, bringing the total number of the located or freed to 261, searches are still on to locate the remaining residents numbering over 140.   

This is owing to the fact that the Nigeria Army and DSS have refused to speak publicly on the whereabouts of the residents, the freed ones, and why the over 400 residents were in the first place kept out of public knowledge to date.”