Amnesty International has stated that 15 #EndSARS protesters arrested in 2020 are still being arbitrarily detained without trial, three years after the #EndSARS protest that took Nigeria by storm.
In a statement released on the third anniversary of the protests, Amnesty International, said the majority of the protesters are in Kirikiri Medium Correctional Centre and Ikoyi Medium Security Correctional Centre in Lagos without trial.
The international non-governmental organization, also said the Nigerian authorities have filed trumped-up charges against many protesters, including theft, arson, possession of unlawful firearms, and murder; adding that some of those detained alleged that they had been subjected to torture.
“Our investigation shows the Nigerian authorities’ utter disdain for human rights. Three years in detention without trial is a travesty of justice. This shows the authorities’ contempt for due process of law. The protesters must be immediately and unconditionally released,” said Isa Sanusi Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.
“Seven #EndSARS protesters – Daniel Joy-Igbo, Sodiq Adigun, Sunday Okoro, Olumide Fatai, Oluwole Isa, Shehu Anas, and Akiniran Oyetakin – arrested in Lagos in 2020, are being arbitrarily held in Kirikiri Medium Correctional Centre,” Amnesty International said.
“Daniel Joy-Igbo, a Beninois #EndSARS protester arrested in Lagos in October 2020, who has also been detained at the Bar Beach Police Station, the State Criminal Investigation Department in Panti, and at a SARS facility in Ikeja, told Amnesty International:
“Since my arraignment in December 2020, I have been locked up in the prison without trial. Since then, there has been no adjourned date for my case. I have not been taken to court since December 2020.”
Sodiq Adigun, also arrested in October 2020, who was previously detained at the State Criminal Investigation Department in Panti, told Amnesty International:
“Let the government release me. I have been detained since 2020 without trial. I am innocent. My life has been shattered. I need my liberty.”
Eight #EndSARS protesters – Segun Adeniyi, Onuorah Odih, Jeremiah Lucky, Gideon Ikwujomah, Irinyemi Olorunwanbe, Quadri Azeez, Olamide Lekan and Sadiq Riliwan – have been detained without trial in Ikoyi Medium Security Correctional Centre in Lagos since 2020.
“All those detained solely for taking part in peaceful #EndSARS protests must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Isa Sanusi.
The Amnesty International report added that many peaceful #EndSARS protesters have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment while in detention since 2020.
They include Oluwole Isa, currently held in Kirikiri Medium Correctional Centre, who told Amnesty International how he was tortured while in detention at the SARS facility in Ikeja:
“I was tied with a rope. They bent me backwards and tied my hands and legs together at my back. An iron rod was passed in between my tied legs and hands. With the iron road, I was suspended on an iron bar. Then, they started beating me with a machete and wooden batons. They were forcing me to admit that I was involved in vandalism during the #EndSARS protests. When I could not bear the torture anymore, I told the Inspector that I would confess. At that point, I was almost going to die. He brought me down; I still have the scar of the machete cut on my throat …”
Resurgence of police brutality
The report also stated that there has been a resurgence of police brutality in the country despite the nationwide protest in 2020.
“In the past year alone, Amnesty international has documented the unlawful killing of at least six people by law enforcement officers. These include 31-year-old Gafaru Buraimoh, who was killed in Lagos on 6 December 2022, and Onyeka Ibe, who was killed on 5 April 2023 in Delta state for refusing to pay N100 bribe. Other cases include Faiz Abdullahi, who died in police custody in Kaduna on 30 July 2023 following torture during interrogation, and 17-year-old student Abdullahi Tukur Abba, who died in hospital after allegedly being tortured in police custody in Yola Adamawa state on 5 August 2023.
Amnesty International urged the government to take concrete and effective measures to end police impunity, including by giving clear directives to the police not to violate human rights.
It also stated that, “those suspected of violating human rights should be brought to justice in fair trials and without recourse to the death penalty. Genuine reforms must be initiated to end widespread human rights violations by the police. Nigeria has an obligation to ensure that torture and other ill-treatment are not carried out under any circumstances.”