NHRC to Police: Release Gloria Okolie unconditionally or take her to court

THE National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to release Glory Okolie, the 22-year-old lady arrested and detained by the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) in Imo State in connection with the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

The NHRC’s Executive Secretary Tony Ojukwu, who said this in a statement on Tuesday, said Okolie should either be released unconditionally or be charged to court to guarantee her rights to fair hearing.

Ojukwu said the abuse of Okolie by the IRT for more than 72 days  and her illegal detention would no longer be tolerated in the 21st century policing, urging that those behind her illegal detention be brought to book by the Police authorities.

He said he became more disturbed upon learning that the victim, while being detained, was used as a slave girl to the officers and was terribly abused, washing clothes and going for errands to buy stuff for officers while being tortured.

“We will not hesitate to condemn such unprofessional conduct which undoubtedly resulted in violation of the rights of the lady in question because her rights to freedom of movement and liberty among several others had been allegedly violated with impunity by the very personnel charged with the responsibility of protecting the lives and property of citizens,” he said.

The commission condemned the illegal detention of Nigerians by security operatives in the country beyond the constitutionally stipulated ‘reasonable’ time, saying that such an unwholesome act was a gross violation of human rights and must be accounted for to serve as a deterrent.

He reiterated that no legal framework approved the act of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment but expressed displeasure that some adamant law enforcement officers were acting based on their whims and caprices to engage in dishonourable conduct of debasing and subjecting their fellow human beings to inhuman treatments.

“It is inconsistent with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and other relevant Bills of Rights to which Nigeria is a party.

“The Executive Secretary reiterated that the Commission will not hesitate to compel the police to do its duties if it does not take necessary legal and constitutional action on the case of Gloria Okolie and other citizens being held illegally without further delay,” it added.

Okolie was arrested on June 17 by IRT officers as bait to arrest her boyfriend, who is a suspected IPOB member.

Director-General of Behind Bars Human Rights Foundation Harrison Gwamnishu, who raised the alarm of her arrest in a statement on Facebook, said Okorie’s family had been searching for her, only to be informed by a detainee who had just regained her freedom from the IRT that their daughter was in the custody of the Police unit in Imo, allegedly cooking and washing for the officers.

Gwamnishu alleged that the Police extorted the family when they went to ask for her bail. He said Okolie was later transferred to Abuja.

    According to him, the released suspect was rearrested by the IRT operatives after it was discovered he was the one that revealed Okorie’s whereabouts to her family.

    The activist said his team met with the newly-appointed IRT Director Olatunji Disu on Thursday, but the Police could not link the lady with any offence apart from being the girlfriend of a suspected member of IPOB.

    But in a statement signed by Force Deputy Public Relations Officer Aremu Adeniran on Sunday, the Police claimed that Okolie was a spy for the IPOB.

    Adeniran said she is a member of IPOB, who worked with one Benjamin Uzoma Emojiri to unleash violent attacks on Police officers and Police stations in Imo State.

    You can reach out to me on Twitter via: vincent_ufuoma

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