Human Rights

Falana demands release of 40 Nigerians illegally detained by Navy


Fiery human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) has written an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari to order the release of 40 Nigerians who have been in “illegal custody” of the Nigerian navy.

In the letter to the President, Falana said he has received complaints from the family members of 40 detainees who have been held incommunicado in dehumanising conditions for periods of six to eight months.

According to him, the “unlawful detention” contravenes sections of the 1999 constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Ratification and Enforcement.

Falana added that “In fact, some of the detainees are incarcerated in an underground military detention facility in Abuja while others are held inside one of the vessels impounded by the Nigerian Navy in Marina, Lagos”.


The letter to Buhari, dated May 19, 2019 read:

His Excellency,

Alhaji Mohammadu Buhari,

President & Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces,

Presidential Villa,

Aso Rock,


Your Excellency,


We have received complaints from the family members of 40 Nigerian citizens who are being detained without trial on the orders of the Authorities of the Nigerian Navy. The names of the detainees are :

  1. Captain Dada Labinjo,
  2. Lt. Commander Sherifat Ibe Lambert
  3. Benjamin Gold
  4. Peter Pulle,
  5. Pius Paul,
  6. Onoja Reuben,
  7. Adeleke Adewale,
  8. Labinjo Kehinde,
  9. Ogunmoyero Oluwasehun,
  10. Emmanuel Oputa,
  11. Innocent Sunday,
  12. Iejoro Friday,
  13. Hamza Yakubu,
  14. Segun Yusuf.
  15. Master-Melvin Jack ;

16 Chief Mate-Adebayo Mayoma

  1. Chief Mate- Francis Oneyema

18 2nd Eng-Godwill Umoh

19 Bosin-Miebaka Iyala

20 Elect 2-Edu Fidelis

  1. Elect 2-Richard David

22 Camp Boss-Daniel Harrison

  1. Asaiki Okeoghene

24 AB 1-Omogoye Bolaji

25 AB 2-Victor Uchendu

26 AB 3-Oloyede Ademola

  1. Oiler-Simon Onyisi Mike
  2. Eng cadet-Udom Victor Jerome

29 Godwin Etiaka Ojodusi

  1. Sixtus Ganabel

31 Owei Ukuto

32 Jeremiah Victor

33 Collins Joel

  1. Augustine Omonisa

35 MV Akemijo Deborah

36 Mike Simeon

37 Umoren Daniel

38 James Archibong

39 Umon Godswill Emmanuel

  1. MT Adeline Jumbo

It may interest Your Excellency to know that the above named detainees have been held incommunicado in dehumanising conditions for periods ranging from six to eight months. In fact, some of the detainees are incarcerated in an underground military detention facility in Abuja while others are held inside one of the vessels impounded by the Nigerian Navy in Marina, Lagos.

The detainees have been subjected to mental, psychological and physical torture contrary to the provisions of the Anti Torture Act, 2017.

Furthermore, in utter contempt of court the authorities of the Nigerian Navy have defied valid and subsisting orders of competent courts for the unconditional release of some of the detainees. Apart from such contemptuous conduct the Nigerian Navy recently denied knowledge of the whereabouts of the 15 detainees held in a detention facility in Abuja.

As soon as we pointed out that the remand order procured by the Nigerian Navy for the detention of the 15 detainees had been quashed by the Chief Magistrate Court in Apapa, Lagos State the Naval Authorities turned round to file criminal charges against 5 of them before a Court Martial.

Since all the detainees are entitled to their fundamental rights to dignity and liberty guaranteed by sections 34 and 35 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended and articles 5 and 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Ratification and Enforcement Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, we urge Your Excellency to direct the Chief Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, to either release the detainees from unlawful custody or arraign them in court without any further delay.

In view of the fact that the illegal detention of the 40 Nigerian citizens for several months without trial has exposed the Federal Government to unwarranted embarrassment the Chief of Naval Staff ought to be sanctioned by Your Excellency.

Please accept the assurances of our highest esteem.

Yours sincerely,


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