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Police still blame a year after Nigeria’s deadly protest

Lagos – Joshua Samuel bitterly recalls a year ago when a Nigerian soldier fired in Lagos and he and thousands of others protested police atrocities.

“People were running and some were down,” the 23-year-old said on October 20, 2020, about the shooting at the Recce tollhouse in Lagos. “I was shot from behind.”

He is still recovering from his injury, but he is absent from work, homeless, and has not received government support.

“I’m not okay. Every word I speak, I’m in pain,” he told The Associated Press.

Samuel is one of more than 100 Nigerians awaiting a ruling on a petition for compensation and justice for alleged police abuse. They applied to a government panel to consider both the October 20, 2020 shooting and previous allegations of police atrocities that caused protests.

In Lagos, protests against a police force known as SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) broke out in the face of widespread accusations of atrocities, injustices and bribes. According to Amnesty International’s Nigerian office, they were called the #EndSARS movement and culminated a year ago Wednesday when 38 protesters were killed nationwide.

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According to President Muhammad Buhari, more than a week before October 20, 2020, another 69 protesters and police were killed and many government facilities and police stations were set on fire.

Buhari vowed that his government would not allow such a disruption of order again, and police deployments were heavy on Wednesday’s anniversary, with hundreds demonstrating tear gas and police firing. It turned out. In a chaotic situation, at least four people were arrested and others were arrested.

According to court hearings and victims’ testimony, anti-robbery forces were accused of illegally arresting, torturing, and blackmailing primarily young Nigerians. Between 2017 and 2020, Amnesty International said it had found 82 cases of torture and murder of suspects by robbery forces personnel with little or no action from authorities.

In response, Nigerian officials have announced that they will dismantle police forces, pursue police reforms, and ensure the justice of victims.

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However, Damian Ugu of Amnesty International’s Nigerian office said he believed the authorities “have no intention of fulfilling these promises.”

In Nigeria, lawsuits for justice against victims of police atrocities are usually slow, but many police officers accused of abuse do not be prosecuted or face other consequences.

And while the SARS unit is being dissolved, many Nigerians say police atrocities continue.

Ayobami Adesina, 29, was sleeping at her home in southwestern Oyo when police attacked and arrested him last November. According to his sister, Kemi Adesina, his family searched for him for two weeks, believing he had been kidnapped.

They finally learned that he was detained in police along with 10 other people accused of killing police officers during an anti-SARS protest. Adesina spent six months in prison before being taken to court, his sister said, and his trial is proceeding slowly.

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“There is no good evidence (there) and there is no indication that he did this,” she said.

More than 200 #EndSARS protesters are still in prison in Lagos and have not been charged with crime, according to Nicholas Muba, who was released on bail after spending eight months in prison accused of arson in October. I haven’t even appeared in court. Protest in 2020. He is still facing a trial.

“The first night in jail was the worst day of my life,” he said. “We have more than 1,000 arrested in #EndSARS, some have not been tried, and some don’t even know how to communicate with their families,” said a 33-year-old woman.

Oke Ridwan, a lawyer who provided legal services to arrested protesters, said he helped win the release of at least 70 people whose charges were later withdrawn.

After the protest, Nigerian authorities set up judicial committees in all states and the capital, Abuja, to seek compensation for those shot or arrested during demonstrations to address widespread allegations of police atrocities. ..

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In Lagos, the Panel considered more than 235 complaints, according to Tony Eze, who represents the Nigerian Bar Association at the hearing.

At least $ 637,470 has been awarded to 47 petitioners, but many, including 39-year-old Nicholas Okpe, are still awaiting the panel’s decision.

He was shot in the chest by AP and said he had open pain from a gunshot wound a year later, but he can’t afford to be treated. He said he had no help from the government.

“I thank the living god. I haven’t worked since that day,” said Okpe, a bus driver before being shot, distorted in pain.

Amnesty International and its petitioners told AP that dozens of petitions have not yet been answered and at least nine states have postponed the process indefinitely.

The petition was postponed to Chijioke Iloanya, who was arrested by a SARS operative in southeastern Anambra in 2012. The family later learned that he had died during police detention, said his sister Obianuju Iroagna. AP could not independently identify the cause of his death.

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Ugu of Amnesty International said the challenges included secret panel hearings in some states, lack of funding, failure to appear police officers, and the constant postponement of panel hearing petitions.

“We need a special court to consider the issues of basic human rights cases in Nigeria,” said lawyer Lidowan. “And they will also be empowered to actually punish officers.”

Copyright 2021 AP communication. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

Police still blame a year after Nigeria’s deadly protest

Source link Police still blame a year after Nigeria’s deadly protest

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