An Abia State based human rights lawyer identified as Emperor Gabriel Ogbonna, is being held in the custody of the Department of State Service for three months now despite court rulings ordering his release.
According to SaharaReporters, Ogbonna was being detained and tortured by the DSS over comments against President Muhammadu Buhari on his Facebook page.
Ogbonna was arrested on March 24, 2020 by over 20 police officers in company with Chief of Staff to Abia Governor, Tony Agbazuere, and former Commissioner of Police, Ene Okon, in his office for making some critical comments about Buhari and the governor via his Facebook page.
He was subsequently arraigned for cybercrime and publishing false and threatening messages through the Internet against Governor Ikpeazu at a magistrate’s court in Umuahia.
However, because the Magistrate court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case, he was remanded at a correctional facility until April 28 when he was arraigned before the Federal High Court in Umuahia and was granted bail.
Ogbonna was, however, rearrested by DSS operatives on his way out of the correctional facility in Umuahia on the same day despite perfecting the bail conditions.
The DSS moved the lawyer to its office in the state and subsequently its headquarters in Abuja where he has been in custody despite calls for his immediate release from several local and international human rights organisations including Amnesty International in Nigeria.
The legal practitioner was accused of describing Nigeria as an Islamic Republic.
In some of the charges filed by Abubakar Musa, Senior State Counsel, Department of Public Prosecutions of the Federation and Ministry Of Justice, Ogbonna was accused of publishing materials for the purpose of insulting and causing hatred, ill-will against President Buhari.
He was also accused of inciting the Igbos against the Fulani and Northern Nigerians. The defendant in some of the posts called on Igbos to secede from the country and also plots to destabilize the country.
According to the Prosecutor, the defendant made several posts on his Facebook page that are racial/xenophobic in nature and are inimical to the corporate existence of Nigeria.
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