A Coalition of 30 Civil Society Organisations and lawyers across the country has called on the Nigeria Police Force to immediately release detained human rights defender, Comrade Chinonso Uba popularly called Nonso Nkwa or charge him to court.
The coalition decried the detention of Nkwa for more than four days without access to his family and lawyer, a development they said is against the constitutional provisions of Nigeria, the Police Act, and the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.
Nonso Nkwa, a journalist and human rights defender was abducted on Thursday, July 27, 2023, on his way from work at OsisaFM radio station by several masked men in three vehicles in Owerri, Imo state capital.
Following the outrage, the state government admitted that he was arrested by the Nigerian police force for allegedly defaming the state government.
He was later transferred to the Police Force Headquarters, Abuja, and since his abduction, neither the family nor his lawyer has seen him, a development the thirty-one CSOs slammed the police for violating his constitutional rights.
“Nonso Nkwa, a journalist and coordinator of ‘’Protect the Weak International Foundation (PROWIF), a human rights group based in Owerri, Imo state South East Nigeria was abducted on Thursday, July 27, and continues to detain without trial.
“His lawyer said he was initially detained at the Imo State Criminal Investigative Department(CID) Owerri where he was denied access to his lawyers, family members, and personal doctor. He was later flown to Abuja on Friday where he remains in custody at the Police Force Headquarters Abuja.
“On Friday an Imo state government official admitted it was behind Mr Uba’s ordeal, and accused him of defaming the state government by accusing it of working with Asare Dokubo, a militia leader, to unleash violence in Imo state.
“Last month, Asari Dokubo admitted that his militia is currently active in several states including Imo state where they are currently battling the military wing of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB),” the statement noted.
The Coalition, however, lamented how Mr. Uba was abducted like a terrorist while calling for a thorough investigation and punishment of the police officers involved.
The CSOs queried, “Even if he has defamed the Imo state government as alleged, the proper thing is not to abduct him in this manner but to charge him in court.
“His continued detention without trial is a violation of his fundamental human rights as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.
“We are convinced that Nonso Nkwa is being targeted for his work as a journalist, his criticism of the Imo state government, and the spate of killings by both state and non-state actors in the Imo state.
“We reiterate that no journalist or human rights defender should be intimidated or arrested because of his work. The Nigerian police have too often proven brazenly willing to flout the law to intimidate the press.
“We, therefore, call for the immediate and unconditional release of Theodore Chinonso Uba and the dropping of all charges against him.”
The release was signed by 30 human rights groups and Law firms across Nigeria.