A State High Court in Owerri has released the over 100 women arrested by the police in Imo State.
The court discharged and acquitted the women on Friday, four days after they were remanded in prison for allegedly taking part in a protest by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The ruling followed a bail application filed by the lead counsel to the defendants, Ejiofor Uche, which was not opposed as the plaintiff, Imo State Police Command, had no representation in court.
The court, thereafter, granted the bail application and discharged the women unconditionally.
Reacting to the ruling, the spokesperson for the group, Mr Emmanuel Powerful, commended the decision of the court.
He stressed that the ruling was necessary and mandatory because the protesting women had not violated any law or rule of the Nigerian Government.
Powerful, who said IPOB was more determined to achieve its objective, revealed that the group would embark on a mega protest soon.
The women were arrested last week while participating in a peaceful protest in Owerri to know the whereabouts of the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
Following their arrest, the police arraigned them before a Magistrate’s Court in the state’s capital after which they were remanded in prison on Monday.
The arrest and subsequent detention of the protesters had sparked criticism by prominent Nigerians and human rights groups in the country.
Co-convener of Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group, Dr Oby Ezekwesili; former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Professor Chidi Odinkalu; as well as Amnesty International were part of those who condemned the arrest of the protesters.
Hours after the women were released, Ezekwesili, Odinkalu and Amnesty International commended those who joined the call for the release of the protesters.
See their reactions below;
Best News of today: The RELEASE of the #ImoWomenProtesters from Owerri prison.
WE as Citizens Collective must NEVER PERMIT the Constitutional Rights of ANY Nigerian to be TRAMPLED on by especially those whose DUTY it is to DEFEND them.
Kudos to their Legal Support Team. 🙏🏾
— Oby Ezekwesili (@obyezeks) August 24, 2018
Thank u everyone who lent a voice to see we achieved #FreeOwerri112 before the onset of the week-end. Thank u!!
— Chidi Odinkalu (@ChidiOdinkalu) August 24, 2018
— Amnesty Int. Nigeria (@AmnestyNigeria) August 24, 2018