A magistrate in Abuja has remanded six detained protesters in custody on ‘trumped up charges,’ according to their lawyer.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported that a small group of protesters were attacked by security forces at the National Assembly as they were rounding off their protest demanding widespread governmental reforms. Six protesters were arrested, including five males and one female.
Human rights lawyer Tope Akinyode, who is defending the accused, told the PREMIUM TIMES that the protesters were being held on “allegations of unlawful assembly and wanting to distort the societal peace.”
“Of course, those are clearly trumped up charges because the protesters protested in accordance with the law,” he said.
The magistrate in charge of their case decided to strike out the lawyer’s oral application for bail, instead demanding that they present a written request.
Mr Akinyode said that on account of the time it would take to draw up a written bail request, it could not be presented to the court until next week Monday. Therefore, the six protesters will be remanded in custody over the weekend.
The lawyer believes that this was done purposefully to harass and intimidate his clients.
When this reporter questioned Mr Akinyode on the veracity of some social media claims that the female detainee, Oluwatosin Adeiji – a citizen reporter – had been ‘tortured’ by security forces, he confirmed.
“Absolutely … when [security forces] asked her to make a statement, she declined to do that, saying that she would only do it in the presence of her lawyer. In response to that [the security forces] beat her up and gave her internal injuries,” he said.
These incidents come as the Lagos police stated yesterday that they would not allow “any planned protest, procession or gathering” in the state, leaving some to wonder if this policy would be enforced nationwide.
The Lagos police said the decision to ban protests was because the state was still recovering from the looting, killings, and destruction of several properties following a clampdown on #EndSARS protesters demanding police reform.
Footage of Friday’s protest in Abuja showed teargas being fired at the peaceful protesters as they were leaving the protest venue.
Peaceful protests are legal in Nigeria. However, the police are known to use force to disperse protests that are against the interest of the government.
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