CSOs protest arrest of NYSC member suspected of exposing police brutality

A COALITION of civil society organisations has demanded the release of Emeh Nnamdi, a member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) who was arrested by the INTERPOL in the Benin Republic.

Nnamdi, an IT consultant to the Anambra State Police Command, was arrested allegedly in connection with an investigation by the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters into allegations of police extortion, torture, extrajudicial executions, and organ harvesting by senior police officers in Anambra State.

It was learnt that Nnamdi revealed details of the police officers’ alleged involvement in human organ trafficking, kidnapping and killing of suspects after extorting them.

Explaining circumstances surrounding Nnamdi’s arrest, the CSOs, in a statement released on Saturday, March 11, said, “Twenty-six-year-old Nnamdi was taken into custody on March 3, 2022, by INTERPOL after two weeks on the run. He is currently detained at the Force Headquarters in Abuja where he faces the possibility of ill-treatment, instead of being protected by the police, for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and exposing human rights violations.

“On February 16, 2023, Gistlover, an independent digital news and entertainment platform, revealed the shocking details about how senior police officers in Zone 13 and Anambra State command were involved in extortion, extrajudicial execution, enforced disappearance, and organ harvesting of detainees in their custody. The story was corroborated by video evidence of former detainees who were forced to confess serious crimes and who disappeared shortly after. Some families of the victims have since confirmed the story.

“Shortly after the revelation, the police announced that it will launch a full-scale investigation into the allegations, but instead of taking the accused police officers into custody they declared Nnamdi, who works with the accused police team, wanted for sundry offences including suspicion that he must have passed the vital information to Gistlover blog.”

Following his arrest, Nnamdi was accused of possessing a firearm, money laundering, defamation of character, fraud, and impersonation.

But the CSOs have described the allegations against him as trumped up and untrue.

The CSOs said Nnamdi’s only crime has been revealing details about “police extortion, torture, extrajudicial executions, and organ harvesting by senior police officers in Anambra State”.

“Whistleblowers are vital for a transparent society by exercising the right to inform and be informed and the right of people to know,” the CSOs said.

The CSOs said whistleblowers play a crucial role in ensuring accountability and transparency and good governance.

“Whistleblowers play a part in the realisation of accountability and good governance. They are essential to awakening informed debate within public opinion, crucial to opening up investigations by journalists, and necessary for questioning decision-makers.

“Whistleblowers are crucial in promoting human rights, the rule of law, social justice and the fight against corruption. Nevertheless, whistleblowers in Nigeria remain in an extremely dangerous situation. Vulnerable, exposed to reprisals and pressure with psychological impacts on both themselves and their families, whistleblowers have persistently faced a wave of intimidation and often risk abusive defamation proceedings.”






     

     

    The group condemned using cybercrime laws to abuse and harass whistleblowers in the country, noting that no one should be charged for disclosing human rights violations done by the authority.

    “It is unfortunate that the laws relating to defamation, as well as the Nigerian Cybercrime Act 2015, continue to be abused and repeatedly used by the authorities in Nigeria to harass, intimidate and persecute whistleblowers, human rights defenders and activists. We believe no one should be charged under any law for disclosing information about human rights violations by the police or the government. Such disclosures are protected under the rights to information and freedom of expression,” the statement added.

    Some CSOs in the group include African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), Sterling Centre for Law & Development, Access To Justice, The Southern Free Press, Inc, Centre for Human Rights Advocacy & Wholesome Society (CEHRAWS).

    Others are; the Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre RULAAC, Human Rights Social Development and Environmental Foundation (HURSDEF), Confluence of Rights, Workers & Youth Solidarity Network, Rivers Civil Society Organisations, Justice for Peace and Development Initiative, Avocats Sans Frontieres and Nnaemeka Ejiofor & Associates.

    Beloved John is an investigative reporter with International Centre for Investigative Reporting.

    You can reach her via: [email protected]

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