A group, the Jigawa Forum has petitioned the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) over the continued detention of over 486 northerners arrested recently by security agents in Abia State on suspicion of being members of the Boko Haram sect.
The group is asking the commission to order the immediate release or prosecution of the detainees, who are mainly indigenes of Jigawa, Kano and Bauchi states.
NHRC’s Chief Press Officer, Mrs Fatimah Agwai Mohammed said, in a statement yesterday, that the commission’s Executive Secretary, Professor Bem Angwe, while receiving the petition last Thursday, urged security agents to be cautious in their conduct.
Angwe commended members of the group led by Alhaji Ahmed Wanga, for not taking the laws into their hands and for choosing to approach the commission which would ensure that the rights of the detained persons were enforced in line with its mandate.
The NHRC boss described the current insecurity in the country as unfortunate and disturbing.
He advised the security operatives “not to hide under the cover of security to infringe on the rights of the citizens,” and urged Nigerians to support the security agencies in their bid to combat insurgency.
He also urged the security agencies to ensure that arrested persons were subjected to a screening process to separate those who for justifiable reasons were suspects, from those going about their normal business since there could not be a collective punishment.
Angwe said that every Nigerian was entitled to the right to freedom of movement and that any attempt to breach this constitutional provision constituted a setback to democracy.
He urged the relevant authorities to ensure that no citizen was detained unduly.