Nicholas Mbah, who participated actively in the EndSARS protest was released on Wednesday after being illegally detained under gruesome conditions at the notorious Kirikiri maximum security prison in Lagos. He was arrested for being an EndSARS protester on 29 October, while withdrawing money from an ATM somewhere in the Ojo area of the state.
When he would be arraigned in court on 2 November, he was charged for “armed robbery, arson and rioting”. Without any shred of evidence or any basis, beyond his exercising his democratic right to peaceful protest during the EndSARS revolt, he was also accused of being one of those who set fire on “two police vehicles at Ojo police station” which allegedly cost N20m, in the immediate aftermath of the protests.
Nicholas was tortured and refused access to members of his family for weeks. The police bowed to the popular outcry against this and he was allowed to speak with them on phone, only by the end of November. According to the police at the time, physical contact was still not allowed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
This was obviously merely an excuse. Keeping him away from even speaking with his family was a psychological aspect of the multifaceted torture they put him through. The health of Nicholas who had recently undergone a surgical procedure and was suffering from haemorrhagic conditions worsened whilst he was in prison.
The Take It Back movement campaigned vigorously to #FreeNicholasMbah. He was granted bail in March to the tune of N50,000 with two sureties in like sum. The Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN)’s 64-day national strike commenced before these bail conditions could be met.
Courts across the country only resumed this week after the heroic strike was called off. And Nicholas tasted the fresh breath of freedom once again. Take It Backers, including the Coordinator of the Coalition for Revolution (CORE) Lagos state chapter, Comrade Proficience Banwo & Chair of the African Action Congress Lagos state branch, Kunle Wizeman Ajayi, were at the Kirikiri prison gate to welcome Nicholas back to the “craze world” of “the outside world” as Fela put it.
The struggle however continues. The trumped-up charges against Nicholas Mbah must be dropped forthwith. On this demand, our resolve must remain unwavering.
#June12Protest: activists released in Benue. Fight now to #FreeKogi2, Kemi Ogunniyi & all political detainees
The 7 CORE activists arrested in Makurdi during the #June12Protest on Saturday were also released on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the teenage Kemisola Ogunniyi who was illegally arrested in Ondo state on 24 October had the excruciating experience of delivering a baby in prison on 16 June. The agony which 18-year-old Kemi has been made to go through is totally unacceptable.
She was on her way to the Federal University of Technology Akure to collect some money from a relative to treat her ill mother when she was arrested. Security forces were arresting people indiscriminately at the time, as part of the crackdown on the EndSARS revolt.
In their bid to find scapegoats, the police ended up charging Kemi and many other bystanders who were arrested, such as Bukunmi Ayodele, Samuel Ojo, and Obinna Ani for arson, riotous assembly, stealing and malicious damage.
This absurd illegality must be stopped. We demand the immediate release of Kemisola Ogunniyi and all others so illegally detained. And while no amount is too much to make up for the freedom they have been so maliciously denied, the state must be made to pay due compensation for this barefaced assault on their freedom.
Larry Emmanuel and Victor Anene Udoka, two CORE activists, have now been detained illegally for 66 days in Kogi state. Their “crime” is pasting “Buhari Must Go” posters in Lokoja, the Kogi state capital. Even activists arrested for pasting “IBB Must Go” posters in 1992, during the military dictatorship, were not incarcerated for so long.
But not only have Larry and Victor been illegally detained, they have been repeatedly brutalised, right from when they were “arrested” by a ragtag body of lumpen youths loyal to the degenerate Governor Yahaya Bello.
In the wake of the huge outcry raised with the #FreeKogi2 campaign, the duo will now be brought to court on Friday 18 June. We demand their immediate and unconditional release. We call on trade unions, human rights bodies, and other civil society organisations across the country and globally to lend their voices to the #FreeKogi2 campaign.
The flurry of arrests by the Maj Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retd)-led regime is aimed at putting fear in the hearts of revolutionaries, the working masses and youth, to politically paralyse us from fighting back. But, as we have shown time and again – with mass strikes, the #EndSARS revolt and the series of #RevolutonNow protests – we will not be deterred.
We continue to fight because when we dare to struggle, we dare to win. And this fight also includes the struggle to liberate those detained in the belly of the state’s beast. We will win their freedom from incarceration, and we will win the class war to emancipate ourselves and change the system with revolution. All we must do is to unite and fight until our total liberation is won!
by Baba AYE