In commemoration of the second year anniversary of the #EndSARS protests, Amnesty International has revealed that no fewer than 40 protesters during the unrest are still languishing in jail.
In a statement yesterday, Amnesty International said panels set up across the country to investigate police impunity have failed to deliver justice to hundreds of victims of police brutality.
It maintained that the vast majority of #EndSARS protesters arrested in October 2020 are still being arbitrarily detained without trial.
According to the statement signed by the organisation’s media manager, Isa Sanusi quoted the Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, as saying: “The fact that nobody has been brought to justice over the torture and killings of #EndSARS protesters is a stain on Nigeria’s human rights records. Meanwhile, human rights violations by the police continue unabated.
“The authorities must ensure that suspected perpetrators of the deadly crackdown on #EndSARS protesters are brought to justice in fair trials and address impunity for police brutality.
“Two years ago, the Nigerian army and police killed at least 12 people at Lekki toll Gate and in Alausa, Lagos State, while pro-government armed groups deliberately instigated violence at many #EndSARS demonstrations in other parts of the country to serve as a pretext for the police to use of lethal force on peaceful protesters. Rather than bringing those responsible for the attacks on protesters to justice, the authorities have engaged in series of bizarre denials and cover ups.”
He said since the #EndSARS protests, many people who have attempted to exercise their right to peaceful protest have repeatedly faced threats, harassments, and intimidations.
Specifically, Amnesty International revealed that Olumide, Rasheed Tiamiyu, Moruf Adekunle, Taoreed Abiodun, Ikenna Amechi, Afeez Ariyo, Ikechukwu Eze, and Adesina Ademuyiwa were among those arrested in Ibadan for participating in #EndSARS protests in October 2020, and their detentions were polonged without trial
“Despite reportedly suffering from ill health, they continue to be held without trial in Agodi Correctional Centre, having previously been detained at a SARS facility in Ibadan and Abolongo Prison in Oyo Town.
“Ayodeji Oluwasegun, Andoh Immanuel, Yakubu Olayiwola, Olaogun Ismail, Uba Chukwuma, Dosunmu Taiwo, Daniel Joy-Igbo, Yusuf Rafiu, Olawale Marcus, Muyiwa Onikoyi, Shehu Anas, Suleman Saidu, Rasheed Wasiu Bolaji, Adigun Sodiq, Sunday Okoro, Akiniran Oyetakin, Ogidi Isah, Ibrahim Adesanya, and Faruk Abdulquadri have also been detained without trial in Kirikiri Medium Security Prison in Lagos since 2020.
“The Nigerian authorities have attempted to justify the ongoing detention of #EndSARS protesters by resorting to trumped-up charges including theft, arson, possession of unlawful firearms, and murder.
“A further 21 #EndSARS protesters were held incommunicado for 15 months at Afaraukwu Correctional Service in Umuahia in Abia state for participating in the protests. On Friday February 4, 2022, they were released without charge following an intervention by Amnesty International.
“Many of those interviewed said they had suffered from health issues as a result of the torture they faced and the inhuman conditions they were kept in detention. All released detainees interviewed by Amnesty International said the authorities had not returned their phones, cash, and other valuables which were taken from them after the protests.”
He noted that investigative panels set up to investigate police brutality have been marred by prolonged adjournments, intimidation of witnesses by police lawyers and police officers failing to appear “as witnesses, according to observer reports verified by Amnesty International. In some states, panels have failed to take place at all, while others opted to go on break indefinitely.”
The organisation therefore stated that authorities must end the crackdown on peaceful protests, and promptly, thoroughly, independently, impartially and transparently investigate cases of attacks on peaceful protests and bring suspected perpetrators to justice.
“The lack of progress at these #EndSARS panels is discouraging and reveals the authorities’ lack of commitment to ensure justice for victims of police brutality across Nigeria,” said Ojigho.
“All detained protesters must be immediately and unconditionally released. The Nigerian authorities must urgently respect, protect, promote and fulfill the right to peaceful protest including by publicly directing security and law enforcement agencies to stop infringing on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
“Authorities should also ensure that victims of police brutality and their families are provided with access to justice and effective remedies, including adequate compensation, and guarantee of non-repetition.”