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Ex-soldier Illegally Detained In Military Underground Cell For Nine Months Drags Army To Court

Emmanuel Odaudu

Emmanuel Odaudu

Emmanuel Odaudu, a former soldier, has dragged the Nigerian Army to court over his continuous unlawful detention, a report by SaharaReporters has shown.

In the suit filed by his lawyer, Abubakar Marshal of the Falana & Falana Chambers at the Federal High Court, Emmanuel is seeking a declaration that his arrest and subsequent detention on June 12, 2020 without warrant of arrest is illegal inter alia.

SaharaReporters had reported how the former soldier was detained at the Nigerian Military Special Investigation Bureau underground cell in Abuja for several months over an old Facebook video.

It was learnt that his ordeal started when he was in the army.

Emmanuel was said to have posted on social media short videos of himself rapping while in uniform.

The videos, some of which went viral, reportedly infuriated the military authorities, leading to his arrest and detention for three months.

Emmanuel’s mother, Mrs Helen Odaudu said her son was later released, but told he would be redeployed to Maiduguri over the matter.

However, while waiting for his redeployment, the Commanding Officer, 29 Battalion Nigerian Army, Bori Camp, Port Harcourt, dismissed her son over another video he made months before his detention.

Helen said Emmanuel returned home after his dismissal and was busy with his life when the military tracked him to Otukpo, Benue State, on June 12, 2020, on the allegation that he impersonated the Army in the old videos on social media.

She said, “My son told me he made a post on Facebook advising people to get their permanent voter cards to vote for good governance. He was also wearing his uniform in that video, but he deleted it almost immediately. Before he deleted it, a celebrity, Charly Boy, had reposted it and the commanding officer told him he had been dismissed because of that video. After his dismissal on October 5, 2017, my son returned home.

“What happened was that Facebook shared the memory of my son’s old video and the military authorities can verify that on his page. But because he was a civilian as of the time Facebook reposted the video, they said he was impersonating.

“They blindfolded him, chained both his hands and legs and took him away without disclosing their destination to us.”

She said the family tracked Emmanuel to an underground cell in Port Harcourt but he was later transferred to the SIB underground cell in Abuja, where he was allowed to call his family.

She added, “When I heard my son’s voice two months after he was arrested in Otukpo, I was happy because I thought they had killed him.

“My son has been in the underground cell for more than seven months now; he has been tortured like a criminal and refused trial. My son is no longer an officer; whatever the offence, why can’t they hand him over to the police for trial in a conventional court? I come from the barracks, the army doesn’t arrest and keep civilians in detention for more than 24 hours, why is my son’s case different?”

However, on March 4, 2021, Helen was invited by the military authorities but when she got to where Emmanuel was detained, she was informed that her son would only be released if she can pay N1.3 million, a source told SaharaReporters.

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