…New Gani Fawehenmi sets to release them
The Nigerian Students Rights Movement (NSRM) today Tuesday, 24th December, 2013, once again visited the Uyo Prisons at Barracks Road, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, to ascertain the state of health and well-being of the two students of the University of Uyo who have been unlawfully incarcerated for the past seven months without trial. They are:
1) Mr Ita Essien of the Department of Petroluem Engineering; and
2) Mr David Uko of the Department of Political Science.
These innocent students who by virtue of Section. 36(5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), are presumed innocent until proved guilty were arbitrarily arrested along with fourty two (42) other students (all male) mostly at the Off Campus Male Hostel of the University along Udi Street in Uyo and along the road while struggling to return home following the closure of the university, owing to the crisis/riot in that school on June 12th, 2013, by officers of the Nigeria Police Force.
They were initially detained at the Police CID of the Akwa Ibom State Police Command, Ikot Akpan Abia, Uyo, from 12th June to 19th June when the police in their characteristic disdain for Rule of Law took them before an Uyo Chief Magistrate Court presided over By Chief Magistrate Lawrence S. Udonwa on fabricated and frivolous charges of; murder, arson, rioting, etc, knowing fully well that the Chief Magistrate Court had no jurisdiction to try them on those felonious charges. Suprisingly but ostensibly doing the bidding of the police, the Chief Magistrate instead of discharging the 44 students pending proper arraignment before the State High Court after declining jurisdiction in the matter, made a committal order remanding the students in prison custody. He then forwarded the case file to the Director for Public Prosecution (DPP) for action under the notorious practice of “with-holding charge”.
Since then, the Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Justice has turned a blind eye to this case, leaving the hapless students to their fate ostensibly because there is no established evidence of crime against those poor students. Neither has the DPP ordered their release from custody apparently to massage the primitive ego of the despotic authorities involved in this orchetrated debacle who are looking for scapegoats to cover their gross failings and failure in leadership.
It should be mentioned that the 42 students released sofar who had stayed long in prison regained freedom after being granted bail by the State High Court sequel to their separate Fundermental Rights Enforcement Applications. The remaining 2 until now had no legal representation.
The Legal Adviser of NSRM and Human Rights Lawyer- Barr. Ibrahim Mohammed, is taking over the case of the remaining two students still in custody and will pursue same pro bono (free of charge).
We note that one of the two students is an orphan with little or no hope.
It is a very sad commentary that the much touted “Uncommon Transformation” mantra of the Akwa Ibom State Government has not been felt in the justice sector as far as this pathetic case is concern. We see the inhuman treatment meted out to the uniuyo 44 as not just an attack on Sanity, Rule of Law and Democracy, but as an indictment on the society.
It is instructive to note that during the sad crisis on June 12 in uniuyo, a student (Kingsley Udoette), was murdered by the very persons accussing the uniuyo 44 of the murder. We ask: how can 44 people jointly shot and kill one person?. Also, students of that university have been surcharged by the management (N10,000 for engineering students and N7,500 for other students) for the damages. At the same time, 44 students have been subjected to this slave-like treatment. NSRM ask if studentship in Nigeria is now a crime?
While the above named students spend their christmas sorrowfully in Prison on Wednesday, 25th December, 2013, over what they know nothing about, we remind those despots responsible for this injustice who will be spending their christmas in comfort with their loved ones that their days of reckoning and nemesis shall come.
We solicit the support of the media and the human rights community in this struggle.
Aluta Continua, Victoria Acerta.
Sign: Comrade Inibehe Effiong, National President NSRM.