Nigerians held a protest march on Thursday in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to demand the release of two Buhari-must-go protesters, Larry Emmanuel and Victor Udoka, who have been arrested and detained by the Kogi State Government since April 5.
The protesters, while condemning the continued detention of the duo, demanded that the Nigerian government should wade in and get the innocent citizens released.
They displayed protest banners, with inscriptions such as, “Yahaya Bello, Where is Emmanuel Larry?.”
One of the protesters who spoke for others, said, “We are here to protest the continuous shrinking of the civil space, the lack of respect for citizenship and the total disregard for the rule of law.
“It will interest us to know that young Nigerians were arrested for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression by pasting posters to condemn the level of maladministration in the country; the level of corruption and insecurity and the level of human right abuses and the complete anarchy that has descended into the country.
“What manner of impunity is that? The judiciary workers are on strike today and their strike is based on their demand for financial autonomy which is important to dispense justice. Aside from the impunity of the government, they are comfortable that the courts have been shut. In fact, if they had the opportunity, they would have shut down the court, a long time ago.
“We are gathered to ask the Nigerian government to free these two comrades unconditionally.”
SaharaReporters had last Wednesday reported that the two protesters, who were arrested, molested by thugs sponsored by the Kogi State Government and detained by the police were critically sick.
SaharaReporters learnt that the two protesters had also been denied medical treatment.
“They are seriously ill and not getting treat ment. The state government is hell- bent on keeping them, perhaps until they die in custody?” a source had stated.
About two weeks ago, global human rights’ organisation, Amnesty International, had demanded the unconditional release of the two Buhari-must-go protesters, adding that the protesters’ only crime was that they were “peacefully protesting against corruption and distributing posters that were perceived to be critical of the President.”
Amnesty International had said that the activists “were physically assaulted and tortured by unidentified men while peacefully protesting against corruption, and the poor human rights situation in Nigeria, and distributing posters that were perceived to be critical of the President.
“A few days later, they were turned over to the police and were subsequently transferred to the Nigeria Correctional Centre, located in Kogi State, in North Central Nigeria, where they are currently being held.
“The two activists are being detained solely for peacefully exercising their right to protest and expressing their views. They must be immediately and unconditionally released,” AI statement partly read on Monday.
SaharaReporters had last week reported that the Kogi State Acting Chief Judge, Justice Richard Olorunfemi, stated that the protesters had not yet been brought to court because the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria workers were on strike and all courts were closed.
The Chief Judge in an interview with SaharaReporters on Thursday said the protesters had not yet been arraigned because of the strike and the judiciary could not account for their whereabouts.
He directed our correspondent to “carry on your investigation” with the police.
SaharaReporters had reported on April 8, that the Kogi State Police Command continued in its deliberate harassment and intimidation of Emmanuel and Udoka by charging them for treasonable felony and public disturbance.
SaharaReporters had learnt that the duo were not brought to court because of the JUSUN strike, but were tried in a Magistrate’s office and remanded in the Kabba prison.
The power-drunk magistrate, it was further gathered, gave no adjourned date for the matter.
The police had secretly arraigned the two protesters and ensured that they were remanded at the Kabba Prison – without the knowledge of their lawyers or family members.
SaharaReporters had learnt that neither the charges on which they were arraigned nor the identity of the Magistrate where they were tried was made to the public.
The police authorities backed by the Kogi State government have continued in their desperate attempts to frustrate the two protesters.
This is sequel to the abuse and humiliation suffered by the peaceful protesters in the hands hoodlums sponsored by the government in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital.
SaharaReporters had reported that the irate mob flogged the two youths, filmed them and brutalised them before they were later handed over to the police.