The Nigeria Police Force has released the detained Imo-based radio journalist, Chinonso Uba, popularly known as Nonso Nkwa.
Nkwa was released on Tuesday, exactly 10 days after a Federal High Court ordered his release within 24 hours.
SaharaReporters had reported that the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on August 18, 2023, ordered the police to release the detained Nkwa within 24 hours, describing his detention as illegal.
However, the police refused to release Nkwa despite the court order. It insisted that Nkwa must satisfy some bail conditions including payment of N20 million before he would be released.
A member of Nkwa’s family told SaharaReporters that he was released on Tuesday evening after the police pressured him to tender an apology to Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo state.
SaharaReporters reported on August 16 that the police headquarters arraigned the rights activist before an Abuja Federal High Court.
Uba, who is also the coordinator of the Protect the Weak International Foundation (PROWIF), was arraigned on two counts bordering on insulting Governor Uzodinma and Niger Delta militant leader, Asari Dokubo.
The police in a charge numbered FHC/ABJ/CR/367/2023 between Inspector General of Police Vs. Chinonso Uba told the court that Nkwa’s offence contravenes the Cyber Crime Prohibition Act.
The Owerri-based radio journalist was picked up in Owerri on July 27, 2023, and was subsequently detained at the Police Force Headquarters in Abuja without granting him access to his family members and lawyers.
SaharaReporters had reported that the journalist was dragged from his car to an unknown place after work at Ozisa FM, Assumpta Owerri, where he had told his listeners and admirers that he could be abducted by unknown gunmen.
When his whereabouts could not be ascertained, residents and civil society organisations started accusing Governor Uzodinma’s administration of being behind his disappearance. Following several reports, the Imo State Government confirmed that he was arrested by the police.
Human rights groups complained that Nkwa was being held illegally and denied access to his family and doctor. They maintained that his detention without access to his lawyers and family members violated his fundamental and constitutional rights.
However, following his detention without arraignment in court, his lawyer, P.A.N. Ejiofor, filed a fundamental rights suit against the police.
Delivering judgment in the suit numbered FCT/HC/CV/7128/2023, the presiding judge, Justice E. N. Okpe, held that Uba’s “arrest, detention, and torture are illegal, unconstitutional, reckless, and a violent infringement of his fundamental human rights”.