The Coalition for Revolution (CORE) welcomes the release of nine #EndSARS protesters in Ibadan during the week and salutes the EndSARS United for its tireless efforts leading to the long overdue freedom of these young Nigerians.
They were amongst the 100 inmates released from the Agodi Correctional Centre, Ibadan, Oyo state, this week, under the State’s prerogative of mercy.
Adeshina Muyiwa, Ikechuckwu Eze, Ariyo Sodiq, Ikenna Amaechi, Oyewole Olumide, Ariyo Afeez, Taoreed Abiodun, Adekunle Moruf and Rasheed Tiamiyu and two others (including a minor) who were released a short while earlier made up the #Oyo11. They were arrested in 2020, in the wake of the #EndSARS protests which they actively took part in.
The Oyo state government falsely accused them of murder, arson, and the theft of weapons from the police. The Oyo State Chapter of the Coalition for Revolution (CORE) has been at the fore of denouncing the arrest and fighting for their release, right from when they were arrested.
Under the leadership of Comrade Emiola Solomon, who is also the Oyo State Take It Back Coordinator, CORE Oyo state was relentless in keeping the case of the #Oyo11 in the public domain. For over two years, they led the struggle for these youths freedom in the law courts, in protests on the streets, and on social media. And they have done so over the last one and a half year as part of the EndSARS United.
CORE and several other civil society organizations which played active roles in the EndSARS protests and remain genuinely committed to the spirit of that historic movement, established the EndSARS United in 2021. The united front, which was at the heart of organizing the EndSARS Memorial programs in 2021 and 2022 has been at the fore of fighting for:
1. Recognition of brutal killings and public apology by government
2. Release of every person incarcerated over the #EndSARS protest
3. Compensation for all #EndSAR victims & families of those killed
4. Full implementation of reports of the Judicial Panels of Inquiry
5. Prosecution of all security personnel indicted in the #LekkiMassacre
6. Full implementation of the #EndSARS #5for5 demands
Working with allied progressive lawyers, organizations and activists under the EndSARS United banner have been able to secure the release of dozens of detained #EndSARS protesters over the last two years. And in October 2022 alone, EndSARS United activists and lawyers visited over 130 inmates in prisons to find out how many more #EndSARS protesters are still being held under false charges.
The finalization of the release of the #Oyo11 is a victory for the EndSARS United and a confirmation of the strength in working together to fight for freedom, collectively. But this struggle continues. There are still several #EndSARS protesters being incarcerated that we must win their release.
It is also not enough to release them, supposedly under the prerogative of mercy. This is a travesty of justice. We demand compensation for them, for the unjust incarceration they have suffered.
The context of their release also raises questions about the justice system. There were over 1,109 inmates in the Agodi prison which was built to hold 339 inmates. And a significant number of these were awaiting trial, including for petty crimes. Meanwhile, those who steal billions of naira walk freely. And if they ever get caught, they are “incarcerated” in very comfortable settings.
This is unacceptable. CORE demands an overhaul of the justice system. Periodic acts of prison decongestion as acts “mercy” under the prerogative of the state is not enough. We stand for abolishing the regime of incarceration which is mainly used to shackle poor working-class people, including with false charges as was the case of the #Oyo11.
Once again, we salute the EndSARS United, and all organizations and lawyers who stood by the #Oyo11 and the Oyo State CORE Chapter over these last two odd years.
United we are stronger! Onward forward to total liberation!
Baba Aye Gbenga Komolafe