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A non-profit organisation against human rights infringement, Center for the Rule of Law, has demanded the unconditional release of the Yoruba Nation protesters arrested by the police at a peaceful rally held in Lagos recently.
Recall that on Saturday, July 3, Yoruba Nation agitators stormed the Gani Fawehinmi park in Ojota area of Lagos state to demand an independent south-west region.
In a release made available to Freelanews and signed by its president, Olasupo Ojo, the group called on the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to intervene and pull the plug on the injustice being perpetrated under his watch.
The group wondered why, despite the state commissioner of police, Hakeem Odumosu, acknowledging notice of the peaceful rally, he still went ahead violated the rights of people to protest.
“During the mayhem, the victims were subjected to various indecency and indignities (like beating, flogging, hunting, chasing and undressing them) publicly. They were arrested, detained and prevented from returning to their various homes,” Ojo noted.
The group, which also listed the names of those arrested, opined that the participants at the peaceful rally were only exercising their fundamental human rights and hence not entitled to demeaning treatment they are being subjected to in the hands of men paid to uphold the law.
Read full statement below:
THE DISRUPTION OF THE PEACEFUL RALLY FOR THE RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION OF THE YORUBA PEOPLE: DEMAND FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF ARRESTED PERSONS FROM POLICE CUSTODY
As an organization committed to the Rule of Law the threshold of which is the respect for human rights and freedoms, we are bothered and worried about the recent violent disruption by the Nigeria Police and the violation of rights of participants at a peaceful rally and campaign FOR THE RIGHT TO SELF DETERMINATION OF THE YORUBA PEOPLE held at Ojota in Lagos on Saturday July 3, 2021.
A letter giving notice of the rally with a request for the protection of participants from disruptive elements was served on the police before the date of the rally by the organizers who arrived at the venue peacefully with songs, drums, placards and banners and requested again for the protection of the police who were already at the venue. The Commissioner of Federal Police in Lagos State, HAKEEM ODUMOSU, addressed the press and acknowledged receipt of the letter and strangely threatened the participants.
Considering the tensed atmosphere at the peaceful rally, the organizers directed their members to disperse from the venue to their various homes. However, instead of allowing the participants to return to their homes peacefully, the Lagos State Commissioner, in his helmeted gear with a gun strapped on his neck and menacing belts of cannisters around his body, ordered his men to unleash crude physical violence involving firing of tear gas, hot water cannons and life ammunition on participants at the peaceful rally during which rampage an innocent and scared 24 years old shop attendant, OLAJUMOKE MONSURA OYELEKE was shot through the back while she was running to avoid the rampaging police angrily pursuing rally participants into the narrow lane location of her shop. The police in a Statement attempted to shift the blame for the murder of the lady but the Lagos State Government has ordered an inquest into the death of the victim the result of which is being awaited.
During the mayhem, the victims were subjected to various indecency and indignities (like beating, flogging, hunting, chasing and undressing them) publicly. They were arrested, detained and prevented from returning to their various homes.
The victims were later cramped inside a truck already stationed at the venue which confirms that the Commissioner of Police and his men already intended to unleash violence on the peaceful campaigners and to make arrests and detain participants in order to prevent the rally from holding.
The arrested victims were detained at the Panti Police Station Yaba from Saturday July 3 until Sunday when the Commissioner of Police ordered them to be brought to his office at Police Command Headquarters in GRA Ikeja. He invited the press and the media, unlawfully paraded the victims like criminals; declared that they were arrested because they violated the order banning public rally in Lagos; subjected them to trial, produced, admitted and examined some displayed personal dressing and cultural/religious protection insignia and articles and vehicles seized from some of the victims as evidence, he also produced and displayed some guns, which the victims denied as not belonging to them, he pronounced the victims as criminals publicly and sentenced them to be returned to detention at Panti Police Station in Yaba, Lagos.
Surprisingly and notwithstanding the parade and public trial of the victims by the Commissioner of Police, he brought a surreptitious application Ex-parte in Misc Suit No A/8/9/2021 on Monday July 5, praying the Court to remand the victims for 21 days for investigation purpose which application was granted by the Court and on the basis of which the Commissioner of Police has continue to detain the following victims at the Panti Police Station, Yaba:
⦁ OLASUNKANMI TANIMOLA
⦁ ADELEYE OLUWAFEMI
⦁ KABIRU LAWANSON
⦁ CHINEMEREM EMMANUEL
⦁ RASAKI MUSIBAU
⦁ LUKMAN OLALADE
⦁ SAHEED KAREEM
⦁ OLASANMI OLDIPUPO
⦁ BASHIRU SHITU
⦁ LAWAL HAKEEM
⦁ TAOFEEK ABDULSALAM
⦁ OLAMILEKAN ABATA
⦁ ABDULLAHI SIKIRU
⦁ TOSIN ADELEYE
⦁ BABATUNDE LAWAL
⦁ OBA TAJUDEEN BAKARE
⦁ ADEYEMI SHEGU
⦁ ADEDAYO ADEBANJO
⦁ ABIODUN ADENUGA
⦁ BAMIDELE AKOMOLAFE
⦁ AKIUNBOUNJE SUNDAY
⦁ ODUMAKIN AKEEM
⦁ BABATUNDE ADEYEMI
⦁ SAMUEL IBE
⦁ ADETAYO AZEEZ
⦁ ADESHINA IBRAHIM
⦁ AYOMIDE AKINYEMI
⦁ QUADRI ISHOLA
⦁ ABOLARINWA LATEEF
⦁ SUNDAY AREMO
⦁ WAHEED ADEBAYO
⦁ ABDULSALAM LUKMON
⦁ APENA DADA
⦁ SEMIU AKANBI
⦁ RAJI KABIRU
⦁ SULAIMON RAJI
⦁ OLAMIDE AFOLABI
⦁ OGUNGBILE DARE
⦁ GBENGA OLANIYI
⦁ BIODUN OGA
⦁ ADEWALE MUYIWA
⦁ OGUNDIMU OPEYEMI
⦁ IFEOLUWA IDOWU
⦁ BALOGUN ABIODUN TAIWO
⦁ POPOOLA SHEU
⦁ JIMOH BALOGUN
⦁ AKINTUNDE IDOWU
⦁ DAUDA ABUBAKAR
WORTHY OF NOTE IS THE FACT THAT THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE IS YET TO FILE ANY CHARGE AGAINST THE VICTIMS TILL DATE. THIS IS BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING TO BE INVESTIGATED AS THE VICTIMS WERE ARRESTED WHILE EXERCISING THEIR LAWFUL RIGHTS PEACEFULLY AND OPENLY.
Based on our analysis of available facts and evidence, we deem it necessary to express out considered opinion as follows:
⦁ That the peaceful rally was organized to sensitize the YORUBA PEOPLE about the existence of and need to exercise their lawful right to self-determination provided for in Article 20 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights as domesticated in the laws of Nigeria as follows:
All peoples shall have the right to existence. They shall have the unquestionable and inalienable right to self-determination. They shall freely determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen.
⦁ That participants at the peaceful rally were exercising their fundamental right to freedom of expression guaranteed by Sections 39 and 40 of the Nigerian Constitution as follows:
Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.
Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to … any association for the protection of his interests.
⦁ The exercise of a right vested by law cannot and should never be criminalized by the state otherwise it turns to an oppressive violation of lawful rights of the people. The participation by the victims in the Yoruba Self Determination Rights peaceful rally was therefore a lawful exercise of vested rights.
⦁ There is no law banning peaceful rallies or empowering the Commissioner of Police to ban open rallies or impose conditions for the exercise of the lawful rights to freedom of expression or peaceful assembly in Lagos State.
⦁ The way and manner the Commissioner of police led and conducted the operations which disrupted the peaceful rally and the arrest of the victims on Saturday July 3, 2021 was unlawful and a clear violation of the lawful rights of the organizers, participants and victims of arrest and detention. It was also an abuse of the powers of the police.
⦁ The Commissioner of Police has no lawful power to subject the applicants to public parade and trial in his office as done. The parade of the victims like common criminals in his office during which he subjected them to media and public trial, judgment as criminals and sentencing to detention at Panti Police Station in Yaba, Lagos amounts to abuse of powers and a very gross violation of the rights of the victims to fair hearing guaranteed by section 36 of the extant Constitution of Nigeria as follows:
In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.
The Commissioner of police, HAKEEM ODUMOSU, is not a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality. In fact, he was the police, the prosecutor, the witness and the judge in the charade he organized in his office on Sunday July 4, 2021 hence it was not surprising that he found them guilty of “offences” created by him for his self-aggrandizement and to satisfy his patrons. He acted unprofessionally as a leader and officer of the police in a democracy. By constituting himself to a court, he has taken over the functions of the Courts and violated the Constitution flagrantly. The implication is that having conducted his unlawful trial of the victims and found them guilty in his court, he can no longer take the victims for trial before any court of law. This is why we view his Ex-parte application to Court for remand order as an after-thought aimed at legalizing his prior illegality. The violation of the right to fair hearing was already completed beyond repair. This is the reason why no charge has been filed against the victims till date and if any charge is filed, the court will be called upon to determine its legality.
In the light of all the foregoing, we hereby call on the Governor of Lagos State and the Honorable Attorney General of Lagos State, within whose territory the violations occurred and is continuing, to intervene immediately and prevent further injustice under their watch by halting any further abuse of the rights of the victims presently languishing in over-stretched police custody and ordering their release without further delay. We also urge all lovers of justice and freedom worldwide to prevail on them to do the needful rightly.