By Innocent Anaba
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
LAGOS—FIFTY-three suspected members of the Movement for the Survival of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), including a pregnant woman and an aged man who have been in prison custody have asked a Federal High Court, Lagos to admit them to bail. They were arrested at the Technical Secondary School, Abule-Ado, Lagos for allegedly plotting to overthrow the Federal Government. The applicants who were arraigned before a Yaba Magistrate Court, Lagos, nine days after their arrest were ordered to be remanded in prison custody by the Yaba Magistrate court, pending their formal arraignment before the federal high court.
Their counsel, I. Nkenchor, is asking the federal high court to admit them (applicants) to bail, pending the determination of the substantive charge, arguing that most of them are seriously sick and may die in prison custody, if their health needs are not taken care of.
Mrs Gloria Okafor, mother of two of the suspects, in a 26 paragraph affidavit in support of the bail application averred, that the “applicants were arrested on September 11, 2004 at the Technical Collage while playing a football match. They were arrested by policemen from the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Panti, Lagos and the police informed them that they were been arrested for being members of MASSOB”
According to the averment, “I visited the applicants in cell at the SCID, Panti on September 12, 2004 and discovered that some of the applicants were very sick, especially Gloria Mokwe, who is about six months pregnant. I was informed by the pregnant detained woman that she was at the football field to watch the proposed match. The 23rd and 29th applicants are traders who had come to school to sell Ice Cream, while the 3rd applicant is very old, and the police could not keep him in cell because he is above 80 years, but the police had to lower his age and retype the original charge sheet before the charge could be accepted by the Yaba magistrate court”.
According to her, “the 1st, 6th, 9th, 24th, 30th, 34th applicant are presently suffering from very serious bone dislocation because of the physical torture melted out to them by the police who arrested them, while the 6th applicant in particular cannot move his lower jaw because the police used gun boot to dislocate his lower jaw”.
She further averred that “it is not possible for the applicant to plan treason using the medium of a football match. They were charged to court on September 17, 2004 for treasonable felony. If the applicants are not granted bail, they will die before justice and justice of the case will not get them, as they need serious medical attention and their present place of detention which is the Ikoyi prison is not only poorly ventilated, highly congested with very poor arrangement for feeding and medical attention. She further,said that "most of the applicants do not know why they were detained, and there is not credible evidence linking any of the applicants with the offence of treason, apart from the fact that some of them confessed to being members of MASSOB”.