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Emefiele, Kanu arrested arbitrarily as pre-trial detention persists in Nigeria – US Govt

Nigeria, USA to forge stronger security ties – FG

The United States Government has said that Godwin Emefiele, the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra were examples of individuals arrested arbitrarily by security personnel.

The U.S noted that lengthy pre-trial detention has remained a problem, denying detainees access to a court and frustrating the country’s judicial system.

The U.S. Department of State disclosed this in its ‘2023 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Nigeria,’ published on its website on Tuesday.

It said that in the prosecution of corruption cases, law enforcement and intelligence agencies did not always follow due process, leading to the arrest of suspects without appropriate arrest and search warrants.

According to the report, the Department of State Services (DSS) detained the suspended CBN governor “for investigative reasons” on June 10 after which a Federal High Court in Lagos, on July 25, granted him bail and ordered he be held at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre until the bail was made.

“However, the DSS immediately attempted to arrest Emefiele again, and a fight reportedly broke out between DSS agents and Nigerian Correctional Service officers as each group tried to take Emefiele into custody,” the report stated.

Meanwhile, the former CBN governor was released on bail on November 8 before he was later charged with corruption.

Similarly, the report noted that the DSS continued to detain Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, a government-designated terrorist organisation on national security grounds.

Kanu was charged on several counts including treason, terrorism, and illegal possession of firearms.

“In 2017, Kanu fled abroad after skipping bail, but was arrested and returned to the country in 2021,” the report stated.

However, in 2022, an appeal court in Abuja dropped all charges against Kanu and ordered his release, which the federal government appealed.

“On December 15, the Supreme Court overturned the appeals court ruling and stated Kanu faced terrorism charges, even though Nigeria’s secret police had violated Kanu’s rights during his arrest and extradition. Kanu remained incarcerated at year’s end,” the US said.

The report stated that a shortage of trial judges, trial backlogs, endemic corruption, bureaucratic inertia, and undue political influence hampered the judicial system.

“Some detainees had their cases delayed because the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigerian Correctional Service did not have vehicles to transport them to court.

“Some individuals remained in detention because authorities lost their case files. In general, the courts were plagued with inadequate, antiquated systems and procedures,” the US said.