Victim Spends Nine Months In Custody Without Trial
Family Denied Access
Victim Accused Of Belonging To IPOB
The whereabouts of a 31-year-old businessman, Ikechukwu Henry is a subject of dispute between the Nigerian military and the Department of State Service(DSS) following the failure of the former to produce him in court.
Henry was arrested at his home in Akwuke Awkunanaw, Enugu state at about 2.00 am with his wife and four-month-old daughter on 23 August 2021 by soldiers and detained at 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu. His wife and child were released the next day but Henry remains in detention. Family members and lawyers said they have not seen Henry since his arrest and all effort to locate him has not yielded any result
In an affidavit deposed at the federal high court Enugu, dated 24 May 2022, Mrs. Ikechukwu Sochima said her husband was accused of belonging to the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and has been detained incommunicado since his arrest from home, and the military authorities have rebuffed all efforts made by the family to visit him in detention. Mrs. Ikechukwu noted that the military authority has equally refused to charge him to court.
However in a counter affidavit deposed to at the Enugu High court in response to the fundamental rights application brought by lawyers to Ikechukwu Henry asking for his release, one Lt Col Chidi Egbom, the Acting deputy head of legal services Unit, 82 Division Nigerian Army Enugu, the Army admitted arresting Henry but said he was transferred to the DSS Headquarters after the arrest. He however did not mention the date the victim was transferred to the DSS custody.
Responding to the claim by the Nigerian Army, the State Security Service (DSS) in a court affidavit dated 7th June 2022 denied holding Mr. Henry Ikechukwu. The organization described the claim by the army as ”untrue and misleading as the first respondent (army) never transferred the applicant to the 2nd respondent (DSS)” “Furthermore the Nigerian Army failed to show proof of such transfer to our custody as alleged. No date, no name of the receiver, and signature of the said receiver” the DSS said.
When NOHR contacted Mrs. Ikechukwu, she confirmed that she had not seen her husband since his arrest on 23 August 2021 and pleaded with the authorities to release her husband for the sake of her only daughter.