The Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) has petitioned the General Officer Commanding, 81 Division of the Nigerian Army over the 3-month-long detention of a civilian, Jude Eze Ibe at the Dodan Barracks in Lagos .
RULAAC, in the petition signed by Okechukwu Nwanguma, the Executive Director of the group, said Ibe had been illegally detained at the cell on the orders of the Commandant of the military police, Brigadier-General M.L Abubakar.
Ibe was reportedly arrested and detained in connection with some desert boots retrieved from a shop at the Army Market, Oshodi (Arena), according to his wife’s account.
Trouble started when the military police visited ‘Arena’ on March 5 to recover debts from someone in the market.
According to Amarachi, the wife of the detained person, the military personnel sighted some desert boots which Ibe had kept in his neighbour’s shop because his shop was filled with goods recently imported from China.
Upon sighting the boot, the military personnel seized the goods, ordering Ibe to report to their office the following day. He obeyed, visiting alongside a friend and sales attendant.
However, they were detained on allegations of supplying boots used by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
She said the other men were however released two weeks after while her husband remained in detention on the excuse that he had not obtained a license before involving in the sale of the boots.
Amarachi called for the immediate release of her husband, stating that his continued detention has affected his ailing father. She added that her husband was also hypertensive as she expressed concerns over his health.
The petition from RULAAC urged the GOC 81 Commander to ensure Ibe’s immediate release and ensure appropriate disciplinary actions are taken against the officers who illegally detained the businessman.
The petition reads, “Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) writes to bring to your attention and to seek your intervention to order the immediate release of Mr. Jude Eze Ibe, a civilian businessman who trades in footwear at the Army Market Oshodi known as ‘Arena’ and has been detained at the Dodan Barracks VI for over 3 months allegedly on the orders of the Commandant of the Military Police, Brigadier- General M.L Abubakar.
“Mrs. Favour Amarachi Ibe, the wife of the detained businessman, informed us that her husband was arrested by some military police personnel on March 5, 2022, and has been detained at Dodan Barracks over some boots they saw and impounded from his shop. She informed us that her husband sells ‘rubber palm slippers’ (flip flops) at the ‘Arena’.
“According to Mrs. Ibe, the military police personnel had come to the ‘Arena’ to recover debts allegedly owned a Chinese by her husband’s neighbour in the market. They saw some boots in the neighbour’s shop which she said her husband had given to him to keep for him in his shop because his own shop was filled with goods he had just imported from China.
“She said her husband kept 77 pairs of Desert Boots in the shop of the man that the military police personnel came to arrest and they saw and took the boots and asked him to report at their office.
“He reported and was locked up by the military police, alongside his friend and sales boy who accompanied him. They released them the next day and asked them to report again the next day with her husband. They reported again on the 7th of March 2022 and were informed that ‘they got a call from Abuja that they should hand them over to 81 Div. Ikoyi.
“They took them to Dodan Barracks. Two weeks after, they let his friend and the other boy go, and my husband is still detained.”
According to Mrs. Ibe, “they have done all the necessary investigations and said they saw nothing, but the investigating officer said that the ‘Oga’ (boss) is tagging him the person supplying IPOB boots”.
She said the only basis for tagging him supplier of boots to IPOB is simply because he is an Igbo man.
“We are not aware that the military police are a debt recovery agency. They have been with his phone. They have also come to their shop and saw nothing implicating. They have not established any link between the detained man and IPOB except that he is an Igbo man.
“He was arrested because of the Desert Boots, about 20 pairs of which are camouflage.”
“According to further information from Mrs. Ibe, the detaining officers are saying he is supposed to get a licence before selling the boots. She said the boots are not actually in her husband’s line of business, only that he stumbled on them while buying goods in China and felt they could sell since he trades within the army market.
“She added that the boots are expired, which is why since 2020 till date, no one agreed to buy them. Mrs. Ibe has visited several times to secure the release of her husband to no avail. She informs us that her husband is the only son of his parents and the sole breadwinner.
“His prolonged and unlawful detention has denied his aged father the medical attention he urgently needs. He himself is also in need of urgent medical attention. He is hypertensive and his wife is seriously concerned about how he is faring in health. She demands that her husband be released immediately.
“They could at worst have handed him over to the police if they believe he has committed any offence under the law.
“RULAAC requests you to order his immediate release and ensure appropriate disciplinary actions against the officers who illegally detained him as well as involving themselves in debt recovery.”