Home Security 1 Year After #EndSARS: Where Are They Now?
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1 Year After #EndSARS: Where Are They Now?

In November 2020, Ralph and I sat on a balcony contemplating the sudden end of the lives we had just a few weeks prior. Ralph or Adebayo Raphael, as he is more commonly known, was one of a core group of protesters whose presence was critical to keeping the 3-week #EndSARS protests going in Abuja the previous month. He had specifically enraged the government by publicly posting the contact details of public officials who were hostile to the protests on his Twitter handle.

Like me, he had received information tipping him off about his impending arrest by Nigerian state agents, and he chose to hightail it across the border in the time-honoured NADECO Route fashion after a high-risk Abuja-Lagos overnight journey. Now sitting on the lonely 6th floor apartment balcony, Ralph was telling me about someone called Imoleayo Michael, a protester in Abuja who was languishing in DSS custody. Since we left Nigeria a few days before, Ralph informed me, there had been a huge crackdown on perceived protest leaders by the Nigeria Police Force and the myriad alphabet soup security agencies. DSS this, NIA that, DMI the other, DIA…

Over the ensuing year, Ralph and I would find ourselves staring at an ugly, clandestine battle between the Nigerian state and young people identified either as protesters or protest conveners. The following 4 stories are a snapshot of the series of bad faith interactions between the Nigerian state and young people linked to the #EndSARS protests of October 2020. Each of the stories below is that of the subject in question, written in their own words, with my input restricted only to minimal stylistic editing for improved readability. First up is Ralph himself telling the story of how he became a hunted animal forced into exile, and what happened next.

The Protest Organiser

My name is Adebayo Raphael. You might remember me as the guy speaking through a haze of teargas in the video below. You might also remember me as the person who leaked telephone numbers belonging to Presidential spokesperson Femi Adesina, Information Minister Lai Mohammed and Humanitarian Affairs Minister Sadiya Umar Farouq during the #EndSARS protests.
In my previous lifetime, I was a community organiser and a co-convener of the Centre For Liberty, a Civil Liberty Organisation focused on protecting the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of Nigerians. I am no stranger to butting heads with the Nigerian government, but what happened in October and November 2020 took everything I thought I knew about Nigeria and threw it out of the window. There are many memories that I will never forget about the EndSARS protests. But, let me mention three that I think are consequential.

First, I will not forget the fact that for the first time in the history of the Fourth Republic, I saw Southern Nigerians and many a great number of people from the Middle-Belt express themselves in an unfettered manner which, I think, was only last seen in Nigeria during the June 12 struggle. The sense of agency, raw expression and democratized leadership, which inflamed the protests, was a particular indication of the mood and the aspirations of the young people of my generation.

For the first time, I saw an intergenerational synergy–mostly millennials and Gen. Z–to get involved in a cause that was not only noble and compelling but one which was also about essentializing freedom and human dignity. It was an untrodden path for the majority of protesters, but I was glad to see it sprout up in the way which it did. The passion was also real, and there are several people whose faces I recall being at the protests sometimes day and night.

Second, I have never stopped remembering (and I am convinced I never will) the cannibalistic nature of the Nigerian state and its hired savages. During the protests, if you recall, there were several onslaughts by people from a particular part of this country, whose undisguised role in the peaceful protests was to hack down peaceful protesters in Abuja—and to an extent, it was the same in Lagos—but for the resistance of the protesters, they were inhibited and repelled a bit until the Nigerian state shunned all pretenses and became more involved with the savages.

In previous protests in which I had participated, I had somewhat seen the savage tendency of these people, but during EndSARS, they were insanely and tirelessly bloody, and I saw different kinds of cuts on the bodies of many protesters; people who had been hacked by these savages, from Berger Roundabout to Wuse, Airport Road, Central District, Central Bank Headquarters to Kubwa where the brutal execution of Anthony Unuode happened and still rings loud in my head.

Never mind the immeasurable heaps of totaled properties of peaceful protesters or the role of the so-called security agencies in consistently using violent means against the protesters. The Nigerian police in particular, and their vile role in chaperoning these savages to unleash mayhem on us, will never be forgotten. The night at CBN for instance, the savages kept showing up in different chartered buses and we got them to turn back each time. Then, the Nigerian police showed up in about six or seven vans and said they were only there to check up on us. That was very odd because they had attacked us during the daytime the day before.

A that time, our numbers had considerably depleted. Shortly after the police left, the savages returned in fiercer numbers than we could resist. Again, the police escorted them. They destroyed so many things, almost everything at that overnight sit-in, but thankfully there was no casualty on our side. But I will never forget that they kept chanting “Allahu Akbar!” I think some videos from that night are still online. There are people who took part in the protests in Abuja who still contemplate suicide because of the goriness of the protests. There are also those who wish they had simply been liquidated during the whole chaos. I am loath to say that, but it is the truth.

Third, I am very proud to have witnessed the level of coordination achieved during the protests, though it was knee-jerk for the most part. Some teams were randomly set up to oversee security, sanitation, feeding, and at a point, even reconnaissance. And many others just played a very human and inspiring role. There were also times when people with a sinister agenda showed up; and despite having no visible leadership hierarchy, we managed to keep things going without much ado. It was this coordination and enduring support from random sources that ensured we didn’t really lack anything. In any case, I think the decentralised leadership, though advantageous in some ways, also had its several disadvantages. More importantly, however, I will never forget that there has been no accountability, let alone justice.

So why did I leave Nigeria? Well, it was a culmination of different things that led to that. And a lot happened. But, primarily, I had been involved in the protests like everyone else. But as the peaceful protests progressed, I became more involved in a way that got me exposed. I am not exactly sure whether it was because I had always been part of one form of protest or another before the EndSARS protests in October, or it was something else entirely.

But, I recall that the day after the Berger Roundabout incident in which the police chaperoned hired savages to attack us—it was the same day that I spoke on behalf of the protesters at the National Assembly—I began noticing some strange individuals trailing my movements during and immediately after the protests. In view of this, I made it a duty to always be in company of some trusted comrades. But the trailing subsequently increased, and I began to take longer routes back home, and sometimes, I entirely gave up going straight home after the protest.

EndSARS protesters assaulted in Abuja as Police fire gunshots, teargas - 1st for Credible News

But I would later learn from the security guard at home that some people came asking after me and after confirming that it was none of my people, I realized it was time to go underground. I would later learn that there was a house-to-house search going on by both hired savages and security agents and they were going after the perceived coordinators of the protests. During this period, some hired savages narrowly missed a comrade who had been instrumental in helping us expose one of the shameless people funding the mobilization of thugs to harm peaceful protesters in Abuja.

His brother got attacked in his stead, but he received quick medical attention. Whilst underground, I kept receiving calls to disappear completely, and this happened just after the Lekki Massacre. But I was not one to just up and leave in the middle of a struggle, so I stayed and we managed to very discreetly organize some defiance actions at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Force Headquarters, and later Aso Villa and National Assembly.

Those defiance actions were very cautiously organized and we were also very quick to disperse. I narrowly escaped arrest at the National Assembly, and I was pointedly identified by some members of the police contingent that executed arrests and disrupted our defiance action that day. On that very day, I received some frantic calls and messages on WhatsApp to leave Nigeria—as at then I could not even make direct phone calls anymore as I had concrete reasons to believe that my direct line had been bugged after which I destroyed any lingering trace of it. Anyway, with the help of some friends, I left Nigeria in disguise the next day and in a very odd fashion.

I was never prepared to leave, and it nearly cleaned me out. But that’s just as well. My time in exile has been quite beneficial because I have had enough time to reflect on many things about Nigeria.

You know, after I left Nigeria, I kept publishing the phone numbers of some officials of the state online (especially those who were actively working against EndSARS protesters). I urged people to ring them and be very kind to them, and a lot of people did. But my WhatsApp account was subsequently hacked about three times, perhaps because of that. I suspected that they had probably tried looking for me to no avail in the country.

I am convinced that the policing institution in Nigeria is nothing but a terrorist ring. I have come to understand how we have been scarred in Nigeria, even from infancy, to instinctively be horrified at the sight of the police or the army. It is a dehumanising way to live. Sadly, I do not think that the Nigerian police can learn anything from these countries. As you know, a humongous amount of money is pumped yearly into the Nigerian policing institution by foreign governments and organizations, to train the Nigerian police on basic policing protocol, and some of them even travel outside Nigeria for more training and to take specific courses. But they have simply failed to become a worthy public institution. They only use all that training and funding to kill Nigerians from the South and the Middle-belt. I don’t think they will ever stop doing that. Not in this Nigeria.

Am I returning home anytime soon? In fact, I have contemplated returning many times. At a point, I was even urged by some people within my immediate circle to do so, although others dissuaded me vehemently, citing different reasons. But each time I had intended to return, some new discovery or event popped up which dissuaded me from doing so.

But I am under no illusions that our generation is now at a particular crossroads in the history of Nigeria; and a different and unambiguous struggle, which has become inevitably absolute, must become the only preoccupation of some of us, as far as the geographical space called Nigeria is concerned. For this reason, I‘ll be returning more determined and absolute. As to what that struggle is, that will be revealed in due course, which I suppose should not be long.

Finally, what do I think about Nigeria’s post-EndSARS future? This is a very good question. I believe the future of this miserable contrivance would depend on whether or not those who have held on to it as their patrimony since independence, to the detriment of the rest of us, would be willing to bring about a reasonable compromise between them and us. I am under no illusions as to what their reaction would be, but I am certain they shall have their work cut out. In any case, I should let you know there is a very straightforward answer to this question, and that will be revealed in my book titled De-Nigerianization: The Imperative of Reconditioning, which will shortly be published by Abibiman Publishing in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The Computer Programmer

My name is Imoleayo Michael ADEYEUN. I am a Programmer and I live in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Facing charges for protesting police violence - Write for Rights
Imoleayo Michael Adeyeun | Source: Amnesty USA

Shortly after the global #EndSars protest – November 13, 2020 to be precise – at about 2.30AM, I heard my dogs barking seriously in the compound and as a Programmer who is fond of working mostly at night, I was still very much awake. I peeped through my window and saw some gunmen in my compound. I became afraid as I thought they were armed robbers.

I immediately ran to check on my wife, my 7 month old son and my aged mother that were in another room. I met them half way running to my room and I informed them we have armed robbers in the compound. I picked up my whistle and started blowing as loud as I could just to alert the neighbours around. Immediately, I heard a voice from the outside asking me to stop and open my door. I refused and kept on blowing the whistle.

One of them tore down my window net and pointed a gun at me to stop blowing the whistle and open the door for them to come in and I asked who are you? He replied “We are military men!” I asked which of the military and he responded again “We are military, open your door now!” still pointing a gun at me and family.

Well, I didn’t have a choice for the sake of the safety of my family. I went to the living room and opened the door. Immediately, about 10 heavily armed gunmen marched into my living room while about 10 others were outside surrounding my compound with their guns pointed.

One of them started demanding for my phone which I gave him. He asked me to unlock it, which I did, he started running a check while others were searching the house. He later said they need to ask me few questions which I asked him to go ahead but he refused saying we should go outside to discuss. My wife wasn’t comfortable anymore with the situation and started asking what the problem was and she was asked not to bother as he only wants to ask me few questions but my wife insisted on knowing what’s going on.

Immediately, one of the officers took her, my son and aged mother into a room and lock them in there. I was asked to change from my nightie into a
proper dress and follow them outside to discuss which I did while one of the officers already carried my working devices. My wife forcefully opened the door and saw me changing my clothes, then she asked where I was going but I couldn’t say a word to her. She asked one of the gunmen where they are taking me to and he replied “Be calm, I will bring him back. I only want to ask him few questions”.

Getting outside my compound, I noticed the outside lights were off and immediately I was lifted up. I immediately tried to object, telling the officer “You said you want to ask me few questions, why are you lifting me like a criminal?” and he responded “If you try to run, we would shoot you immediately.” I replied “Why should I run when I have done nothing wrong”. Also, some neighbours who heard my whistle blowing came out and the officers asked them to stay away or they will shoot at them, they all went back to their houses. I followed them to where their vehicles (2 trucks and 1 SUV) were parked which was like two streets ahead of mine.

Their engines were running and ready to move immediately they sighted us coming. Getting to the vehicle and noticing they want to move instead of asking me questions as agreed before we left my house, I spoke to the officer to allow me call my wife to notify her about me going with them and he simply said “Don’t worry, I will call her myself”. I was then locked in between the heavily armed gunmen and they sped off. Few kilometers away, I was blindfolded and I could no longer see anything but know we were in transit. After about 45 minutes, I was brought down from the vehicle still blindfolded and taken away. After about 3 minutes walk, we got to a place and my blindfold was removed.

When I looked around, I realised I was in DSS premises. I was handed over to an officer who brought cuffs and chains which was used to chain me to a steel cabinet on the corridor while my properties were handed over to him too. I started asking everyone why am I here? Why am I being treated like a criminal? What offence have I committed to be treated this way? All they replied was “You will know at due time”. After about 5 hours, already getting to resumption hour (8am), I was then taken into a cell while I kept on asking about my offence and getting same response. After another 1 hour in the cell, I was called out and taken away to another cell underground.

I was in there wondering what my offence could be and nothing came to my mind as I don’t indulge in anything incriminating but I kept on thinking seriously.
I was in there for couple of days before my interrogation started meanwhile I’ve been called upon for my data capture and to provide login access to my devices. Getting to the office of the investigative officer in cuffs and chains, I looked at the file on the table with my name written boldly on it, he opened the file and first I saw was a picture of the #EndSARS protest. What a relief for me! So I was being arrested and treated this way because of #EndSars? Wow!

I was taken to the interrogation room several times for interrogations as regards the #EndSARS Protest. Firstly, it was about me being one of the sponsors which all effort to nail me on that was abortive. Secondly, it was about me being one of the beneficiaries who were paid to carry out the protest which I completely disagreed to as I didn’t receive a kobo from anyone to join the protest. Thirdly, it was about me being one of the organizers of the protest and chose to disturb the public which I disagreed to as I only joined the protest physically which were coincidental with their coming close to the office where I work. I took some pictures with them and the protest was very peaceful. I did however, support the protests fully online via Twitter.

These interrogations went on for about 2 weeks as I kept on answering questions, writing, and recordings. In all of this, I kept on making request to speak with my family or lawyer and all requests were denied. I was made to sleep on the bare cold floor till I got a very swollen chest before an inmate manages to give me a torn half mat to lay on. While in custody, my family was thrown into a state of unrest as my whereabouts was unknown to them.

My wife and other family members went from one security agency to the other in search of me, including the State Security Services where I was kept in an underground cell. The State Services denied that I was with them thereby leaving my family in continuous search using all resources available just to find my whereabouts. Radio stations and Television stations were consulted along with social media campaigns to raise more voice as regards my abduction.

On the 36th day in detention, an officer came to call on me as the usual style and said “Get ready, I am taking you to court”. I responded “What do you mean? You didn’t serve me any court notice or have I spoken to my lawyer since you brought me here.” The officer responded “That is not my concern, all I am asked to do is bring you to court”. I was taken to Gwagwalada Magistrate Court in the convoy style again with my hands cuffed and my legs chained like some kind of dangerous criminal.

Driving into the court premises, the prosecutor quickly approached the officers not to park in convoy to avoid media attention. I looked around the court premises and couldn’t identify with any vehicle so as to check if my family members were around. I called on the prosecutor and asked if I have a lawyer to represent me since I am now in court and he responded “Don’t worry, that has been settled.” After about 10 minutes, I wasn’t feeling comfortable with the situation and I called on him again making a request to have a 1 minute discussion with my lawyer and he responded again “Calm down, it’s not a big issue, everything has been sorted out.”

After a while, I was taken into the courtroom where the judge had just finished with a case and everyone leaving the court room except for one lawyer who just finished a case and was still sitting right where he was. My case was called out and the judge requested for appearances, the prosecutor appeared on behalf of the DSS and stated to the judge I don’t have a counsel. I was shocked to my marrow. Immediately, the judge quoted an act of the law that allows him appoints a counsel for anyone without a lawyer and he appointed the sitting lawyer to be my counsel.

The judge then read out my charges on 3 counts which I pleaded NOT guilty to. The charges were:

1. Criminal Conspiracy with others at large

2. Disturbance of public peace

3. Disturbance of public peace

The counsel made an application for my bail quoting an act of the law stating bail conditions and the judge asked the prosecutor if there is any opposition which he agreed to leave at the discretion of the court. I was granted bail and case adjourned till 19th January, 2021. The officers immediately made moves to take me back to custody which I refused until a call was placed to my family so as to be aware of my whereabouts and meet my bail conditions. I was taken back to custody in the underground cell.

On the 23rd of December, which is 5 days after court, I was called upon for my release with my properties still in custody. I went back home to my family after a total of 41 days in detention. I thought after 41days in detention, the court case was just an avenue to let me go without causing any trouble as regards my fundamental human rights that were clearly violated, but to my greatest surprise, the DSS started pressing hard in court. I made several applications for release of my properties which the judge denied as the DSS stated they are exhibits to be tendered in court.

The hearing phase of this case started with DSS bringing their witnesses to court

1st Witness: The officer who led the team for the arrest

2nd Witness: The investigative officer who was the head of panel for my interrogation and he presented statements taken from me which my lawyer objected to stating the statements were taken from me under duress but the judge adopted the statements as exhibits.

3rd Witness: The Forensic Expert who extracted information from my devices who presented documents carrying images of the protest, group chats and other online images which was also adopted by the judge.

After the whole hearing which lasted for 10 months (January – October), my lawyers filled for a No Case Submission which the judge overruled and established a case. Therefore, I have to proceed to my defense as my trial has just begun. My first court trial date was 6th December, 2021. The DSS is hell bent on prosecuting me for simply protesting for the betterment of my fatherland. The DSS has picked on me as a target to use as a scapegoat. From a reliable source, I was told how they planned to make sure I am convicted for this unjustly.

My only crime is to seek for a better Nigeria where as a Programmer, I can be at peace moving with my Laptop and not be killed by SARS. I have a wife, son and aged mother to cater for but my working tools are still being withheld by the DSS, restricting me from making a living. I have lost my work, side gigs, savings and more to this incident. This is almost one year on this case with so much frustrations and pains. I’ve been battling with serious PTSD and serious chest pain I got while in detention.

All I want is my freedom and my life back to normal.

The Protester Before the Protest

My name is Obianuju Iloanya, and I don’t really want to tell my story again. Instead, here is a conversation I had with a journalist in November 2020, which tells what happened much better than I can.

obianuju iloanya - Opera News Nigeria

If you haven’t read the story of my brother Chijioke, and how I came to be involved in the #EndsSARS protests, you can read up on everything here. This is not an account of what happened during the protests or about exiles, detentions or court cases. This is my experience of coming face to face with James Nwafor, the man who boasted about murdering my brother, walking around in Awka a free man. It is also my firsthand account of why the Anambra State judicial panel of enquiry convened after the #EndSARS protests failed to go anywhere.

It is November 25, 2020 and James Nwafor is in Awka. I wish I could take pictures, I saw him today at the defunct Awkuzu SARS police station.

No f**king way.

I swear. He was even asking him if I could recognize James Nwafor if I saw him, I acted like I didn’t know it was him. He’s banking on people not recognizing him via his police picture.

You spoke to him?

I did, I was so scared. He even told me, “You know the justice you are seeking can go either way.”

Where was this?

This happened at the defunct Awkuzu SARS, when I went to submit our addendums to the police legal rep. It was this evening, not up to an hour ago. I was so scared, I didn’t have the mind to pull out my phone for pictures. I wish I had a body cam.

Can I put this information out there?

Yes, but don’t name me, I don’t want the legal rep to know I’m onto them.

Right.

I will find a way to get a picture even if it means going back there. Also, the police are claiming the EndSARS protesters burnt their files so some files aren’t available as relating to my brother’s case. See, today I was thoroughly shocked at the rot in Police. All cases against Peter Obi are missing (Peter Obi will be at the panel tomorrow with his lawyer). I’m going back there, I will find a way to take pictures or just videos. I will go back maybe Friday.

Source: PUNCH

The admin block is standing o, but they are claiming their files were moved to Neni and it got burnt.

But the protesters never even gained access. They shot at them FFS.

Exactly.

We were all here monitoring it.

The legal rep is tired, he said he can’t manufacture case file so police is going to claim the cases never existed. But James tweeted about my brother’s case so he said he only saw a letter containing a comment on my brother’s issue. What this means is that the panel can’t do nothing if there’s no reply/case file.

Oh that’s the play eh? No problem. No problem at all. Do your best and stay out of whatever happens next.

Jeez! These people eh. The police are claiming they arrested my brother while they went robbing a place and his friends escaped. They tortured him, and he confessed and named his friends, they now asked him to lead them to his friends and when they got there, the guys opened fire and my brother was shot in the process! What bullshit is this?! Oh this happened on the 16th of January, almost two months after his arrest. They claimed they got this info last night, after filing that their records were burnt

What’s the lawyer’s name?

Obi Innocent. SP Obi Innocent

Actually do me a favour. Get all the visuals and audio you can.

He’s claiming that he’s helping me because he apparently has feelings for me.

The Overworked Lawyer

My name is Damilola Mumuni and I run a legal consultancy called The Dream Practise. This is my story.

mumuni damilola (@expensivegenius) / Twitter

In November 2020, I got a call that my client Jamiu Bello was arrested by a joint team of the OPC and officers of the Nigeria Police while attending a friend’s wedding some streets away from his house. Jamiu was stripped naked and horribly beaten and then whisked away to the new police station in the market where the Police Officers had to relocate to after the burning of their office which was along the expressway.

For almost one month, the DPO of Ilasamaja Police Station refused to grant Jamiu access to his family members, especially his Grandmother who had assumed responsibility for him since his parents died or his lawyer. The DPO refused Jamiu bail. It was at this point I was briefed following a recommendation by a colleague and I pursued Jamiu’s release vigorously. In the wake of my passionate approach to the case, the DPO mentioned to me that he was not going to release the boys or grant them access to anyone because he wanted to keep them incommunicado and protect their evidence.

I confronted him with the illegality of his methods, and he laughed my warning off by stating that the Commissioner of Police is aware and that I could report him to anyone or drag him to court if I am inclined to do so. The DPO called me a criminal and accused me of aiding evil children. Seeing the way things were going, I immediately reported him to the Lagos PPRO who directed me to return to the station and demand why the boys were held for that long and the DPO said he was holding them to get more evidence.

Ilasamaja Police Station reduced to debris last week

The PPRO then advised him to take the boys to Panti Police Station and the DPO promised to do so that very day. He even told me to go and wait for my client at Panti. I waited at Panti to no avail. The DPO did not take the boys to Panti until about two days after, when I reported him again. I got a call late at night that one of the Police Officers, a certain Muyiwa, had informed my client’s family that the 5 boys had been smuggled to Panti that very night.  I was suspicious of the actions of the DPO and I immediately went to Panti the next day and after all their usual rituals and checks found my client.

It was then I knew why the DPO kept him and the other boys away from their families or lawyers – the boys had been severely beaten with serious scars, scabs and wounds to show as evidence of their ordeal. This was what the DPO was hiding from us to avoid public outrage. My client informed me that the police forced them to either write or that the Police wrote statements on their behalf and asked them to sign same.

The Panti officers did not beat or torture, but they did obtain statements from my client and the others which were entirely different from what they wrote at Ilasamaja. The Panti team promised to investigate the matter, but extortionate demands for money proved a problem and the fact that the officers wanted to collect money for assurances they could not give. They could not promise or assure the release of the children. In fact on the day of arraignment at the Ogba Magistrate Court, a lawyer was already contacted in an obvious Police – Lawyer retainership to render legal services to the boys. A female lawyer was fighting the lawyers present in order to represent the boys, but our presence made her back off. This way, the Police have a field day with suspects in criminal matters.

On the day of arraignment, we paid for the transportation of the boys to court and afterwards the officers kept telling us they would not do anything positive in the case except they got money from us. The day of arraignment was the first time I met all of the boys; five in number and I had a fruitful discussion with them and I honestly understood they were arrested to take the fall for the actual culprits. I ended up representing three of the five boys that day as their lawyers could not make it to court on time due to the short notice of their arraignment.

The boys were remanded in prison awaiting legal advice. It was at this point we discovered the video below:

We thus established that the Police had apprehended the real culprits, but never joined them into the matter or prosecuted them for the crimes they committed, but rather covered up their involvement. We informed the court about this development in one of the court sessions and the Magistrate then advised us to write the DPP. It was at this point our many visits and interfacing with the Directorate of Public Prosecution started.

I even got the number of the Director and sent her a message with all the details to no avail. The excuse was that they do not obtain evidence from citizens including lawyers directly but from the Police. All our explanation that the Police had been compromised fell on deaf ears. We had to pursue the Legal Advice when it was taking too long to deliver it to court after it was ready and on two occasions, we were informed that the Ministry of Justice did not have power supply to print same.

On the last date we made an appearance in court, the Prosecutor did not appear in court and we informed the court that the DPP did not consider our letters and went on to advise that the boys had case to answer on crimes they did not commit. The Legal Advice was so full of inconsistencies and kept lumping two separate incidents together and laboured tirelessly to link the boys with the actual culprits.

Since March 2021, these boys have been in detention without any trial neither have they been released. We then decided to appeal to the office of the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice who immediately ordered for a review and for the first time in June 2021, we received a response to our appeal for review of the Legal Advice which was received and acknowledged by the DPP in March 2021.

The review process has been slow. The DPP has written to the Police to explain and hear their side of the story on the video evidence, but they have refused to do so despite repeated reminders and a seven days ultimatum which has since elapsed.

These boys have become ill and one of them already has lost the locomotive function of two of his fingers. My colleagues at the Ministry of Justice seem to find it difficult to contend with the people interested in nailing these boys for a crime they did not commit. The DPP is usually in the habit of pursuing celebrated cases like the Baba Ijesha matter for public clout while they ignore matters that touch the very heart of humanity like that of these boys.

These boys have never been offered any financial support for legal aid. Their family contribute some money at various times to ensure we make progress. Initially, I represented only Jamiu Bello, but I have had to represent Ismail Olaotan and Abiodun Akinkunmi in the course of time as their parents were not always able to pay whatever fees I would charge them. So I will say that I have prosecuted this case at a hugely discounted sum.

So there was no external funding and because I am not doing it completely for free, I will not say it is pro bono. I have received money from them to do the basics. For instance I have received the sum of N20,000 each from the families of four of  the boys, but I will be filing their Fundamental Human Rights cases  independently, so this means that I will  be covering the other costs from my own pocket. However, I will only continue with Jamiu Bello’s Fundamental Human Rights suit as the other family members prefer I wait till court date before they make a decision. However for Jamiu Bello, I will proceed because he hasn’t come to court in months with others. And I just remembered, my sister in law gave me N10,000 to support this fight for justice.

My initial client Jamiu Bello has not been brought to court in months. At one point someone else was produced in court instead of him. The other person bears the name Jamiu too. Jamiu Bello has been detained at the Maximum prison while the others have been detained at the Minimum prison except for Azeez who has been left behind to stay at Panti as his parents know someone there who helped retain him there. He was briefly released for some weeks, before he was returned to custody.

I intend to file a Fundamental Human Rights Suit on behalf of Jamiu Bello as he has not been produced in court in a while. I also got a call some weeks back from the other boys that they were informed that they would be taken to court on the 18th day of November, 2021 before Hon. Justice Solanke at the Lagos State High Court Annex, TBS. I’m sure this is because of my constant harassment and petition to them as you can see in the email trail of my conversation with the office of the DPP. It is sad that they want to nail these boys for a crime they did not commit.

End Notes

  • Ralph is currently preparing for the Q1 2022 launch of his book “De-Nigerianization: The Imperative of Reconditioning,” which he started and completed during his time in exile.
  • Damilola continues to fight for the Ilasamaja 5, who remain in prison for no justifiable reason over a year after the end of the protests. Due to torture, one of the 5 young men has lost use of 2 of his fingers.
  • Imoleayo continues to attend his court hearings as the DSS continues to go after a conviction that would turn a regular citizen and family man into a political prisoner. The reason why this makes any sense, especially going into an election year remains unclear.
  • Uju Iloanya has accepted that James Nwafor may never answer for Chijioke Iloanya’s murder.https://twitter.com/Ada_mummyya/status/1447593531929923587In October 2021, she revealed that Anambra State governor-elect Charles Chukwuma Soludo hired Nwafor as a security consultant during his successful gubernatorial campaign in October 2021. When confronted, Soludo’s team denied having Nwafor onboard and threatened Uju with legal action until the information was inadvertently confirmed. Soludo has refused to speak on the matter to date.

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