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Nigeria’s secret police, SSS, illegally detains lawyer for two months without trial

Gabriel Ogbonna

Gabriel Ogbonna, a human rights lawyer based in Abia State, has been held in the custody of the State Security Service (SSS) for over two months, despite court judgments ordering his release.

Gabriel Ogbonna

On March 24, over 20 police officers in company of Chief of Staff to the Abia governor, Tony Agbazuere, and former Commissioner of Police, Ene Okon, stormed Mr Ogbonna’s chambers to arrest him.

Before his arrest, Mr Ogbonna had made critical comments about public officials and their policies via his Facebook page.

Shortly after the arrest of March 24, he was arraigned alongside another person for cybercrime and publishing false and threatening messages through the internet against the governor, Okezie Ikpeazu. He was arraigned at a magistrate court in Umuahia.

The offences, according to the charge sheet, are punishable under Section 27(1) (a) and 18(1) of cyber crimes (Prohibition Prevention ETC) Act, 2015.

However, because the magistrate court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case, he was then remanded at a correctional facility in the state capital until April 28, when he was arraigned before the Federal High Court in Umuahia and was granted bail.

Mr Ogbonna was, however, rearrested by SSS operatives on his way out of the correctional facility in Umuahia on the same day. This was after he had perfected the bail conditions.

This paper learnt that the SSS moved Mr Ogbonna to its office in the state and subsequently its headquarters in Abuja, where he has been in custody, without any charges against him.

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