The Nigerian Navy has said that, it has no information as to the whereabouts of 15 persons who have been in its custody since last September.
One of the detainees is the factional President of Nigerian Ship Owners Association (NISA), Capt Dada Labinjo.
The denial is despite the fact that the navy has filed an application in court seeking to continue to detain the 15 persons who have spent eight months in detention.
The navy’s Director of Information, Commodore Suleman Dahun, said the navy had no clue as to their whereabouts on Monday.
When questioned as regards the whereabouts of the detainees, he said, “We don’t know where they are.”
The navy had arrested 15 Nigerians including: Captain Labinjo, Lt. Commander Sherifat Ibe Lambert (also known as Mrs Bola Labinjo) and Benjamin Gold for an undisclosed offence.
But, according to human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), the detainees were immediately dumped in a military detention facility at Apapa in Lagos. However, in order to legalise the arrest and detention of the detainees, the naval authorities obtained a remand warrant from a Magistrate Court sitting at Apapa.
He added that, as the detainees who were incarcerated for over three months were not charged with any criminal offence the magistrate court reviewed their case on January 7, 2019 and ordered the naval authorities to release them from illegal custody forthwith.
In what was described as contempt of the valid order of the court, the navy transferred the detainees to another military detention facility in Abuja. Following the application by Lt. Commander Labinjo filed for the enforcement of her fundamental right to personal liberty the Federal High Court directed the navy to release her from illegal custody.
The valid order of the Federal High Court has equally been ignored by the navy without any legal justification. Even though the civilians among the detainees are not subject to service law, the navy has continued to detain them in military detention facilities, Falana added.