The Centre Against Impunity (CAI) on Thursday called out the Nigerian Navy over what it termed injustice meted to married officers earlier “illegally” sacked.
Comrade Shina Loremikan, CAI convener, at a press conference, said that Captain D. O. Labinjo and his wife, Lt Commander Ibe Lambert, had a distinguished career until their services were “unlawfully terminated by the Naval Authority”.
He said their dismissal was held unlawful by the Federal High Court and both ordered to be reinstated.
“The Nigerian Navy appealed the decision to Appeal Court and Supreme Court and lost”, he said.
“Rather than complying with the order of the Federal High Court as affirmed by both the Court of Appeal and Supreme Courts, the Nigerian Navy resorted to self help with the sole aim of denying them the fruit of their judgment.
“As if that was not enough, the Nigerian Navy, the naval authority began systemic and deliberate physical, emotional and psychological attacks of the person of Captain Labinjo, wife, children, friends and businesses.
“That the persons listed herein from Nos 3-22 are all employees of Captain D. O. Labinjo. As a result of consistent attack on his person, Captain Labinjo’s health began to deteriorate drastically and had to be flown to India for a life saving surgery.
“Sometimes in September 2018, while still recuperating, men and officers of the Nigerian Navy descended on the premises of Captain Labinjo, arrested him alongside his wife.
“Thereafter, all crew of his ship listed as 3-22 were equally arrested and detained. The arrest and detention was effected by an Exparte Order from a Magistrate Court.
“However, after three months and the magistrate being made aware of the true fact of the case, the said Magistrate Court vacated the Order of arrest and detention and ordered the release of all the detainees forthwith.
“That consistent with its now notorious pattern of disobeying valid court order, the Nigerian Navy rather than complying with the said order of release, surreptitiously removed all the detainees to an unknown location.
“That the detainees approached the Federal High Court for an Order enforcing their fundamental rights which was granted and the Federal High Court directed the Nigerian Navy to release the detainees, but the Nigerian Navy has refused to comply with the Order.
“That all detainees have been denied access to their solicitors, doctors and family members. That the denial by the Naval Authority of the whereabouts of these detainees raises a grave concern for their safety and well being.
“That it is sad that in a democracy, Nigerian citizens were detained for almost a year without bail or trial contrary to the provision of the constitution.
“It has thus become worrisome and dangerous that a department or organ of the state has made it a habit to disobey valid order of Court. A resort to self help in this matter calls for an urgent and immediate review by the media and its allies.
“One is bound therefore to ask why the Nigerian Navy is refusing to obey the order of Federal High Court directing the release of all these Nigerian citizens. Is Nigerian Navy above the Constitution?
“It’s appalling that Nigerian Navy that is supposed to set good example for other institutions to follow, but they have instead shown a flagrant disobedience to lawful court order by openly promoting lawlessness in our nation from the vantage point of their power and position.”
Meanwhile, Commodore Suleman Dahun, the Navy Director of Information, did not pick phone calls or reply text message on the matter as at press time.
Aside the couple, CAI listed others arrested and detained as follows:
Pius Paul Onoja Reuben
Master Melvin Jack
Chief Mate Adebayo Mayowa
Chief Mate Francis Onyema
Engr Godwill Umoh
Bosin Miebaka Iyala