Rights lawyers in Anambra State have decried the unlawful detention of residents in the state.
Protesting against the situation in Awka, the state capital on Thursday, the lawyers recounted the case of a woman who gave birth in a prison in 2008 and had remained in detention since then.
The lawyers, in their petition titled, ‘Unlawful detention in correctional centres in Anambra of Igbo men, women and children,’ appealed for the release of such detainees.
Their petition, read by their leader, Chijioke Ifediora, stated that 18 of such detainees were in correctional centres in Awka and Onitsha.
The petition read in part, “Men and women of goodwill have lent their voices accordingly all in a bid to entrench a new leaf in the relationship between citizens and their government, especially the law enforcement agencies and the police. While the success of those actions cannot be overemphasised, the reality is that human rights abuse still abounds.
“As concerned citizens and advocates for rights of all and the sustenance for human dignity, we wish to draw the attention of the international community, the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Anambra State Government to the alarm raised recently regarding the incarceration, prison detention without trial, and gross abuse of human rights of over 18 citizens of Igbo extraction allegedly for crimes they did not commit.
“Our investigation reveals that these persons have been in detention at Onitsha and Awka correctional services for well over 12 years, awaiting trial.
“It is important to emphasise that these citizens and others whose details we do not have presently, have been detained since 2008 in correctional centres in Anambra State for offences allegedly committed by their husbands, fathers, brothers or relations, who could not be found at the time when the arrests were made.
“One of them, Mrs Onyekachi Orji, was arrested pregnant. Available information reveals that she delivered that baby in prison and till date, both remain in custody 12 years after.”