ONITSHA (Sundiata Post) – Human Rights group, the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety), has said six indigenes of Imo State wrongly arrested and falsely labeled as ESN hoodlums by the Imo State Police Command have been released.
According to a statement made available to Sundiata Post on Friday, five of the six regained their freedom late night on Thursday, 3rd June 2021 from Imo State CID Headquarters and Owerri Correctional Headquarters or Prisons. The five newly freed innocent citizens are: Smith Amadikwa, Casmir Ugbor, Ojukwu Ukonu, Emeka Mbonu and Engineer Ikechukwu Okomah. They were wrongly arrested on 12th, 13th, 14th, 13th and 19th May 2021, respectively; and publicly paraded on 28th May 2021 and falsely labeled “ESN hoodlums that attacked Imo State Correctional/Prisons Headquarters and others”.
Intersociety had spoken to the five newly freed innocent citizens Friday morning and they all expressed joy and gratitude to our efforts and those of others including the media; and expressed sadness over the rate of extrajudicial killings and torture going on at the State CID, Owerri where they have been held since 12th, 13th, 14th and 19th of May 2021. This is to the extent that scores of citizens arrested nonviolently and taken into custody at the State CID have been shot and killed or tortured to death-with their bodies permanently disappeared to avoid traces.
Similarly, Citizen Casmir Ibegbulem, one of the five wrongly arrested and falsely labeled innocent citizens, differently arrested on 25th May 2021 in Owerri and paraded as “ESN hoodlums that attempted to burn down Orji Police Station”, was released on Tuesday, 1st June 2021. Citizen Casmir Ibegbulem (an oil company staff in Bayelsa State), alongside Citizens Chinonso John (an Owerri based barber), Chukwudi Okoro (Orji-Owerri based Shuttle Bus owner/transporter), Chigaemezu Sebastian (Owerri Timber Market trader/plumber) and Daberechi Alozie (25 years old apprentice Aluminum Fabricator with Oceanic Aluminum, Owerri) were arrested on 25th May 2021 at Orji part of Owerri and later paraded. Two days later, on 27th May 2021, they were taken to Force Headquarters, Abuja, from where Citizen Ibegbulem was forced to ‘buy his freedom’ with whopping N1.5m after five days of detention.
Citizen Casmir Ibegbulem, on his release, did an audio voice message of gratitude and revelation of what he went through and saw at the State CID, Owerri and Force Headquarters, Abuja. His account included how he was brought out from cell by his IPO at Force Headquarters in Abuja and asked if he was ready to pay N10m for his freedom as “an oil company staff”. Also revealed in the audio was how he bargained and offered to pay “N800,000”, forcing him to be thrown back into the cell in anger by the IPO.
He further disclosed in the recorded audio how scores of detained citizens labeled “IPOB/ESN members” are routinely shot and killed extra-judicially or tortured to death.
“It remains our firm demand that the criminally collected N1.5m must be returned to Citizen Casmir Ibegbulem’s family and there shall be total discontinuation of such extortion and custodial torture and killings or forced disappearances and unlawful executions by the Force Headquarters,” Intersociety further said.