153/96 : Constitutional Rights Project / Nigeria Summary of Facts 1. Between May and June 1995 the Nigerian police in the city of Owerri arrested Vincent Obidiozor Duru, Nnemeka Sydney Onyecheaghe, Patrick Okoroafor, Collins Ndulaka and Amanze Onuoha. They were accused of serious offences ranging from armed robbery to kidnapping. 2. The police completed its case and submitted a report on 25 July 1995. In this report the police linked the suspects to various robberies and kidnapping of young children which had occurred and for which ransoms were demanded. One of the kidnapped children escaped but the whereabouts of the others are still unknown, although the ransoms have been paid. The report concluded that the suspects should be detained under Decree No. 2 of 1984 (which permits detainees to be held for three months without charge) in order to permit further investigations and for the suspects to be charged with armed robbery and kidnapping. At present the suspects are imprisoned and no charges have been brought against them. Complaint 3. The communication alleges violations of Articles 6 and 7 of the Charter. Procedure 4. The communication is dated 5 February 1996 and was received at the Secretariat on 28 February 1996. th 5. At the 20 Session held in Grand Bay, Mauritius, in October 1996, the Commission declared the communication admissible, and decided that the planned mission to Nigeria should take it up with the relevant authorities. The mission was undertaken between 7 and 14 March 1997 and the report submitted to the Commission. 6. The parties were duly notified of all the procedures. Law Admissibility 7. Prima facie, the communication satisfies all of the requirements for admissibility contained in Article 56. The only question that might be raised is with regard to the exhaustion of local remedies required by Article 56(5). Article 56(5) requires that the complainants must have exhausted all available local remedies, or else prove that such remedies are unduly prolonged. 8. The very violation alleged in this case is that the victims are detained without charge or trial, thus constituting an arbitrary detention. The normal remedy in such instances is for the victims to bring an application for a writ of habeas corpus, a collateral action in which the court may order the police to produce an individual and justify his imprisonment. 9. However, the police report contained in the file recommends that the suspects be detained under Decree No. 2 of 1984 (Document Ref. No. CR: 3000/IMS/Y/Vol. 33/172, p.10). By the State Security (Detention of Persons) Amended Decree No. 14 (1994), the government has prohibited any court in Nigeria from issuing a writ of habeas corpus, or any prerogative order for the production of any person detained under Decree No. 2 (1984). 10. Thus, even the remedy of habeas corpus does not exist in this situation. There are consequently no remedies for the victims to resort to, and the communication was therefore declared admissible. Merits

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