FG DETAINING HUNDREDS IN SECRET FACILITIES - AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

Hundreds of people are being held in secret detention in Nigeria, Amnesty International has said.

The rights agency made the allegation on Wednesday at an event to mark International Day of the Disappeared.

The day is observed across the world every August 30 to draw attention to the fate of individuals imprisoned at places and under poor conditions unknown to their relatives or legal representatives.

Relations of some of the victims of secret detention in Nigeria attended the event on Wednesday at the Nicon Luxury Hotel, Abuja.

“Today is very important for us as Amnesty International because of the work we do to promote and protect human lives.

“And the fact that we want to ensure that victims and victim’s voices are heard, it is important for days like this to give them the opportunity to do so,” Osai Ojigho, the organisation’s Country Director said at the event.

Some families who alleged that their members were suffering arrest or detention by security forces in Nigeria shared their ordeal at the event.

Ibrahim Aliyu, 38, said he had not known the whereabouts or condition of his three younger brothers since 2012 when they were allegedly arrested by State Security Service, SSS, during a raid at his residence.

“Sometimes in 2012, security agents from the State Security Service arrested my brothers at Gora along Keffi-Abuja highway. They came as early as 2 a.m. in the night.

“Unfortunately for us, SSS officials stormed my house at the middle of the night and picked them away after jumping my fence, broke the gate and my door. My wife was thinking whether (they were) armed robbers but I told her not to panic because seeing them I noticed that (they were) not armed robbers.

He said he had invited his brothers to his house the day preceding the fateful night so that they could plan their trip to their hometown for Sallah.

“I invited them from their working place to come to my house so that we can know the exact days we would spend in our hometown so that I could write to my office to seek a casual leave to enable us travel for the Sallah,” Mr. Aliyu narrated in tears.

“Before my three brothers disappeared, we used to contribute money to support our extended family. Now without them, the burden is entirely on my shoulders. I have to do everything; take care of their families and provide for our mother. Our mother is now perpetually sick, because she thinks a lot about my brothers’ fate. Sometimes I feel I can’t bear the pain anymore.”

Amnesty International said it feared that hundreds of people were being held in secret detention in Nigeria, a conduct it said is prohibited under the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons From Enforced Disappearance.

Saying Nigeria is a signatory to the convention, the group called on Nigerian authorities to release details on the fate and whereabouts of all those who have allegedly disappeared.

“Many families of the victims of enforced disappearance spend painful years searching for justice, truth and reparation but are ignored or misled about the fate of their relatives.

“The authorities must do the right thing now, by releasing all of them or disclosing information about their fate or whereabouts,” Mrs. Ojigho said.

The group said a research it conducted revealed that “most enforced disappearances take place in the conflict ridden North-east of Nigeria where young men are often seized by the military after being accused of affiliation to the armed group, Boko Haram.”

The organization said it had also obtained details of men, women and children victims of enforced disappearance in other parts of Nigeria.

The country director also highlighted allegations of human rights abuse levelled against the military during the clash that reportedly led to the killing of over 300 Shiites in Zaria in December 2015.

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