Acoalition of human rights lawyers has filed a petition at the United Nations Human Rights Commission against President Muhammadu Buhari and a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai over the illegal detention of Lance Corporal Idakpini Martins and 86 other Nigerian soldiers at 8 Division Nigerian Army, Sokoto.
In the petition SaharaReporters obtained on Wednesday, the petitioners told the UNHRC based in Geneva, Switzerland, that the 87 soldiers had been held for over two years in unimaginable deplorable conditions at a place not fit for human habitation.
According to the petition, some of affected soldiers have lost their sight as a result of their incarceration while some have developed pile and whooping cough.
The petition dated April 23, 2023 which was signed by Austin Okeke Esq for the National Lawyers Coalition For Peter Obi, and obtained by SaharaReporters, claimed that the soldiers were detained not because they committed offence but were detained to make money.
The petitioners noted that 87 detainees in Sokoto are entitled to N10,000 each per day, amounting to N300,000 per month, and N3.6 million per year. They noted that the money is not, however, given to the detainees, while accusing top military officers of using the inmates to make money.
The petition partly read, “We the National Lawyers Coalition For Peter Obi have submitted a petition with the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva Switzerland
“This is in respect of the illegal detention of Lance Corporal Idakpini Martins and 86 other soldiers at a military barrack in Sokoto State, Nigeria.
“These soldiers have been held for over two years in unimaginable deplorable conditions at a place not fit for human habitation. Some of them have lost the use of one or both of their eyes as a result, some have developed pile, while some are coughing non-stop.
“There is a huge profit attached to the number of detainees, therefore inmates have become commercial commodities for the senior military officers.
“For instance, there are currently 87 detainees in Sokoto. Each is entitled to N10,000 Nigerian currency per day, this amounts to N300,000 per month, and N3,6 million per year. When you multiply the amount by 87 detainees, you will appreciate that the longer they are detained, the more money it is for the top military officers.
“We have brought to the attention of the international community this unspeakable inhumane treatment by one man to another for urgent interventions.”
Meanwhile, one of the detainee who spoke to SaharaReporters, noted that the petition had triggered chains of reaction within the military hierarchy, adding investigation had been launched on the circumstances of their arrest and the manner in which they were being treated in detention.
According to the detainee who doesn’t want name to be mentioned, he said “this petition really shook the army. The state governments whose indigenes are in detention have since sent officials to inquire about their well-being.
“Some of the detainees have been cleared for release, their charges reviewed and subsequently dropped, and the Army authorities have been courting them so as to appease them lest they spill further rotten beans.
“Investigation has commenced on the circumstances of their arrest and the manner they are being treated in detention.
“Top Army officers are, in fact, spying on each other since the revelations of these atrocities,” he said.