Former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof. Chidi Odinkalu and fiery Bar Leader, Mr. Jibrin Okutepa SAN have stated that there is nothing to celebrate over the release of embattled lawyer, Mr. Pius Awoke after three years detention by Department of State Services (DSS) without charge.

Awoke was released along with his cousin Onyiba Emmanuel Chinonso, a computer science student at Ebonyi State University. Both detainees were whisked away by DSS operatives on 27th July, 2021 along Abuja -Lokoja highway while returning to their Abakaliki base after attending the trial of detained Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

CITY LAWYER gathered that the detainees were held despite a court judgment directing the DSS to arraign Awoke and nine others within a month of September 1, 2023.

Speaking via his verified Twitter/X handle, Odinkalu wrote: “Alao Aka Basorun will be turning in his grave at the idea that @NigBarAssoc is celebrating triumphantly the release of anyone, least of all a lawyer, from detention for 3 yrs without charge. If @YCMaikyauSAN can’t defend the #RuleOfLaw, he shd abdicate.”

Odinkalu added that “I am glad that Mr. Awoke is out of detention by @OfficialDSSNG after 3 yrs but it is silly of @NigBarAssoc or its president, @YCMaikyauSAN to claim this as achievement. When a lawyer can be disappeared like this for no reason, we shd all be alarmed.”

The leading human rights activist stated that an NBA that is fit for purpose should show collective indignation that such a situation can happen to any citizen, adding that Maikyau should not claim credit for Awoke’s release.

In a post endorsed to CITY LAWYER, Okutepa stated that “There is nothing to celebrate for the release of any Nigerian citizen, much more a lawyer, from detention after three years after arrest.”

Odinkalu stated that “It shows how our law enforcement agents are trampling and have trampled upon the liberties and freedom of hapless and defenceless Nigerians. I am not one of those celebrating the release of Pius Awoke Esq.

“Rather, I weep that as lawyers, we have collectively and individually failed to protect and defend ourselves against and from the unlawful invasions of not only the liberties of Nigerians but also the liberties and freedoms of Nigerian lawyers by our overzealous security agencies and indeed the institutions of justice put in place by law to protect and secure the liberties of all Nigerians.

“There are many Pius Awokes in detentions in Nigerian. Some well-connected and well to do individuals have cornered our institutions of justice to pervert the cause of justice. Money has become the most basic consideration to secure the illegal detentions of Nigerians in these institutions. We have institutions that denied remedies to unlawful invasions of our rights as Nigerians, and nothing may happen.

“Many innocent souls have died in unlawful detentions because they have nobody to speak for them. Most of our detentions camps are like warehouses where human beings are dumped like rooten goods and chattels. There is no humanity in most Nigerians working in these institutions.

“As an association, NBA has branches across Nigeria. These branches have human rights committees. Rather than promoting the rule of law, we have turned our noble association to petty political association that fights mundane issues and divisions, and we have forgotten the core mandate of the association.

“Why should Pius Awoke Esq and others still in detention be in detention without immediate remedies. It shows how wicked we have turned our institutions of justice to in Nigeria. We seem to embrace injustice as our ways of life. I am sure in the places where these institutions of justice operate, we have lawyers who are members of NBA thereat.

“We experience more acts of terrible wickedness in the hands of some lawyers operating in those institutions. What have we done as professional association to tame our members who misuse their powers and positions to inflict injuries on the liberties of Nigerians and lawyers.

“We have done nothing to curb these wicked acts against ourselves.

“Our well-being and welfare as lawyers should be the upper most priorities to our professional association. But it appears the reverse is on the increase. I weep for the professional association that devotes more time to chasing shadows than the substance of the interests and well-being of its members.

“My only consolation is that Pius Awoke Esq is alive to tell his side of the stories. To that extent, I congratulate Pius for surviving the harrowing and excruciatingly unhygienic experience for about three years in detention.”

CITY LAWYER recalls that Maikyau had in a statement hailed the release of Awoke following his interractions with the DSS.

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