Rights Groups Demand Immediate Release of Detained Rights Defender
July 31, 2023
Nigerian journalist and human rights defender, Chinonso Uba, also known as Nonso Nkwa, remains in detention for the fourth day following his abduction in Owerri, Imo state. Various human rights organisations, including Sterling Law Centre, Avocats Sans Frontiers, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre, and others, have condemned the manner of Nonso Nkwa’s abduction and called for an investigation into the actions of the police officers involved.
The journalist, who is also the coordinator of the ‘Protect the Weak International Foundation (PROWIF),’ was abducted by masked men in three vehicles while leaving work at OsisaFM radio station on Thursday, July 27.
According to Nonso Nkwa’s lawyer, he was initially held at the Imo State Criminal Investigative Department (CID) in Owerri, where he was denied access to legal representation, family members, and his personal doctor. On the following day, he was transferred to the Police Force Headquarters in Abuja, where he is currently held in custody.
An official from the Imo state government admitted to being behind Mr Uba’s abduction, accusing him of defaming the government by alleging a connection with Asari Dokubo, a militia leader. Asari Dokubo had previously acknowledged the presence of his militia in Imo state, engaging in clashes with the military wing of the outlawed Indigenous State of Biafra (IPOB).
The rights groups argue that even if the journalist had defamed the state government, he should be charged in court, not subjected to such unlawful detention.
His continued detention without trial is viewed as a violation of his fundamental human rights under the Nigerian Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and The African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.
The concerned organisations believe that Nonso Nkwa is being targeted due to his work as a journalist and his criticisms of the Imo state government and the escalating violence in the region caused by both state and non-state actors.
The signatories of the statement emphasise that no journalist or human rights defender should face intimidation or arrest for their work, and they call for the immediate and unconditional release of Theodore Chinonso Uba, along with the dropping of all charges against him.
The situation has drawn widespread attention and concern from the international community, and the rights groups remain committed to advocating for justice and the protection of human rights in Nigeria.
The organisations that signed the release are:
1. Sterling Law Centre, Abuja
2. Avocats Sans Frontiers ( Lawyers without Borders) Abuja
3. Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), Lagos
4. Centre for Human Rights Advocacy and Wholesome Society (CEHRAWS) Aba.
5. Everybody Must Serve Campaign For Human Rights (EMS), Abuja
6. Justice for Peace and Development Initiative (JPDI), Lagos
7. Nnaemeka Ejiofor & Associates
8. The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), Onitsha
9. Life Wire International Foundation, Benin City
10. International Solidarity for Peace and Human Rights Initiative. Enugu
11. Enugu Civil Society Advancement Network (ECSAN) Enugu
12. Coalition of Civil Society Workers and Human Rights Defenders, Enugu
13. Human Rights Social Development and Environmental Foundation, (HURSDEF), Port Harcourt
14. One Love Foundation, Benin City
15. Nigerian Observatory For Human Rights, Abuja
16. African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), Abuja
17. Anti-Corruption Awareness Organisation, Enugu
18. Child Rights Foundation, Lagos
19. Foundation For Leadership And Development
20. Rivers State Civil Society Organisations
21. Association of West Africa Media Lawyers
22. Rethink Africa Foundation
23. FOI Counsel
24. Open Society for Justice Reform Project
25: Citizens Centre for Integrated Development and Social Rights, Nigeria (CCIDESOR)
26. Habitat Care and Protection Initiative (HAPI)
27. Dinju, Fashe & Co.
28. Foundation for Civic Education, Human Rights, and Development Advancement (FoCEHRaDA)
29. Akwa Ibom Human Rights Community (AKHRC)
30. Public Enlightenment Projects (PEP), Umuahia
31. Institutional and Sustainable Development Foundation, FCT