A Nigerian, Peter John, who was arrested and detained during the #EndSARS protest has shared his ordeal in police detention.
He was arrested some distance from his place of work in Lekki, on Oct. 23, 2020, three days after the infamous Lekki shooting.
The police accused him of being one of the hoodlums who vandalised properties in the state, including a Police station in Ajah axis during the EndSARS protests.
He told HumAngle that despite explaining to the police that he worked as a security guard a distance away, he was driven to Maroko Police Station.
The development began his journey to prison where he spent 15 months, marking his birthday twice in Kirikiri Medium Prison.
“I was taken to Panti the following day of my arrest. I spent five days there before the police finally arraigned me alongside others,” he said. “I marked my birthday on Dec. 18, 2020 and Dec. 18, 2021 in detention,” he said bitterly.
Experience in Kirikiri
“I was arraigned before a Magistrate court in Yaba and the court ordered that myself and 11 others be remanded in Kirikiri. I was fed with poison in Kirikiri and had to fall sick for several months.”
He told HumAngle that most of the drugs for inmates had expired and he had to wait for his family members to get him drugs during his sick days.
John also narrated that he “packed urine and faeces of fellow inmates for the first few months and rejection always lead to torture.”
For nearly 10 months, the court did not sit to address his matter alongside those arrested with him. When the matter eventually came up on Aug. 19, 2021, it was adjourned again.
“After repeated adjournments, our matter was later addressed and the court struck out the case on Dec. 17, 2021. Despite this, I was not released because there was no one to sign my release warrant until the lawyer’s intervention on Jan. 18, 2020.”
Speaking further with our reporter, Peter told HumAngle that he knows six other people arrested in connection to #EndSARS rotting in Kirikiri prison.
“There are a lot of people still rotting in detention. I know of at least six people who are still there in connection to #EndSARS.”
Speaking on John’s plight, the lawyer who secured his release, Festus Ogun, told HumAngle that “his case is the tragedy of our criminal justice system. If no one goes there to perfect his paper, he may be there forever. Others who are his case mates had left but he was left because no one came for his release.
“He’s been in unlawful detention for months and the state ought to have ensured his release after the court struck out the charges against him. We don’t have a justice system in this country because if we do, people should not be passing through this. We really need a reform in our justice system.”
HumAngle reported that #EndSARS protests were triggered by grievances arising from years of harassment and rights violations by operatives of the Police’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
For weeks in Oct. 2020, many Nigerian youths took to the streets to protest extrajudicial killings and other irregularities by the Police unit. The protests led to the disbandment of the tactical squad.
In a desperate move to quell the demonstrations, which had continued despite the proscription of SARS, soldiers were deployed to the epicentre of the nationwide protests at Lekki Toll Gate on Oct. 20, 2020.
They shot at protesters and killed many. The demonstration was later hijacked by hoodlums who looted stores, homes, warehouses, as well as private and public properties in different parts of the country.
Many people including police officers were killed. While others sustained gunshot injuries, innocent Nigerians were arrested randomly.
After scrapping SARS, the Nigerian government promised extensive police reforms, which many Nigerians believed it has yet to fulfill.
Panels of enquiry were set up in 29 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, to investigate complaints regarding police brutality, recommend sanctions against erring officers, and award compensations to complainants in deserving situations to assuage their pains.
HumAngle understands that no fewer than 2,791 petitions were submitted to the panels in the 29 states and the FCT.
The panel set up to look at the Oct. 20, 2020 incident in Lekki, in its report in Nov. 2021, judged Nigerian soldiers to have massacred peaceful protesters at Lekki.
Meanwhile, the federal and Lagos State governments disputed the findings.
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