Charles Nwoke, Abuja, Nigeria
November 8, 2020
Centre for Liberty, a civil society group, has condemned the arrest and detention of a citizen journalist, Oluwatosin Adeniji, and five EndSARS protesters by men of the Nigeria Police in Abuja.
Adeniji along with the protesters were arrested in front of the National Assembly complex on Friday.
The group in a statement issued by Ariyo-Dare Atoye, Deji Adeyanju, and Adebayo Raphael, its conveners, described the arrest as illegal.
It demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all those arrested by the police.
The statement reads, “On Friday, November 6, 2020, we received reports of how six peaceful #EndSARS protesters at the National Assembly in Abuja namely Oluwatosin Adeniji, Paul Akinwumi, Davo Chom, Abdulsalam Zuberu, Kabiru Gasali, and one other were illegally arrested by the police and subsequently taken to court without any charge leveled against them, and then remanded in Suleja Prison till January 25, 2021, by a magistrate known as Abdulrazak Eneye.
“We note with utmost disturbance how this hurriedly executed anomaly reeks of an unholy alliance between the court which is meant to be the last hope of the common man and the Nigerian Police from whom the Nigerian People have been demanding more accountability and professionalism in the last four weeks.
“We equally note how this development follows the seizure of the traveling passport of at least one of the relief coordinators for the peaceful #EndSARS protests that happened across the country recently, and the freezing of the Bank Accounts of no less than 19 individuals and a public affairs company linked to the protests. As if those weren’t bad enough, another peaceful protester in Lagos, Eromosele Adene, was recklessly whisked away by members of the Nigeria Police on November 7, 2020, in broad daylight, after harassing his mother and sister in their home in Lagos State.
“Needless to say that these GESTAPO-style operations are unbefitting of a democratic country. They at once suggest that Nigeria’s democracy has been replaced by unbridled tyranny that could plunge our country into an abyss of chaos and disorder. This pattern also concretizes suspicions across the country that the Nigerian Government is bent on shrinking our civic space and criminalizing constitutionally-guaranteed rights of citizens to freely express themselves and assemble peacefully.
“We are, therefore, unequivocal in our demand that all arrested protesters including those mentioned above be released immediately, and the travel passports seized from #EndSARS activists be immediately released, and an unreserved apology is made to them by the Nigeria Police and the Nigerian Government. Similarly, all bank accounts that have been frozen or deactivated due to their owners’ participation in the protests must immediately be reactivated.
“In conclusion, we strongly urge the Nigerian judiciary to be circumspect of politicians who intend to use its hallowed institutions to carry out nefarious political agenda and ruin the sanctity of our democracy. Before it is too late, the Nigerian Government must retrace its steps and remember that democracy thrives when all arms of government function to serve the people without limitations.”