Human Rights lawyer based in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, Tope Temokun Esq on Monday berated the Nigerian police over its claims that no #EndSARS protester was still in custody in the country.

Temokun stated that the police’s claim in response to Senator Shehu Sani’s patriotic call on President Bola Tinubu to release all detained #EndSARS protesters, was wrong.

“How? What is this supposed to mean? The governments of various states and the Nigerian Correctional Service are in the best and first position to respond from their records,” the lawyer explained, adding that police outburst suffers from fallacy of hasty generalization.

He described Sani’s appeal to President Tinubu to pardon those still incarcerated over #EndSARS protest in 2020 as a “thoughtful and introspective call on the President to genuine service”.

Temokun explained that his thought on that was more patriotic than the outright denial by the police that there was no #EndSARS protester in custody again across the country.

He said, “The reaction by the police that all individuals arrested have been processed according to law and none remains in custody, citing the facts that Governor Sanwo-Olu pardoned about 100 suspects in Lagos suffers from fallacy of hasty generalization.”

“ENDSARS protesters were arrested across the states of the country and apart from Lagos, which other state officially pardoned those arrested in connection with the October 2020 ENDSARS protest,” he questioned. “What is the number of the total protesters arrested in Lagos and other states? What is the number of protesters charged to court?

“What is the number of protesters successfully prosecuted or pardoned or discharged? What percentage of those arrested in Lagos and outside Lagos had legal representations and how many of those legal representations, billed or pro bono, followed those cases to logical conclusions?”

He said that until the government comes up with data and statistics on his questions, the police could not officially make a conclusive statement on the matter.

Titled: “Shehu Sani To President on EndSARS Detainees: Police Lack Authoritative Data On EndSARS Detainees,” the activist said that many #EndSARS protesters are in prison custody across the country, without arraignment or trial, and with no legal representation.

Giving an instance, he said, “On the 22nd of October, 2020 at about 10:30 am, Kemisola Ogunniyi, a young girl who was out to get some drugs for her sick mother Mrs. Eniola Felicia Ogunniyi, who had been bedridden for 2 weeks, was accosted around Ilesa Road before Akure Local Government Office in Akure by a team of soldiers and Policemen who arrested her and alleged that she was part of the ENDSARS rioters who set the Aketi Campaign office along Oyemekun/Ilesha road, Akure, on fire.

“She was taken to the State CIID, Ondo State Police Command Headquarters at Alagbaka-Igbatoro, Akure and detained there briefly before being taken before the Magistrate Court Akure, to be remanded at the Surulere prison, Ondo since the 24th day of November, 2020. She was in prison till the 16th day of June, 2021 when she delivered a baby boy in prison which threw her case up for global attention to her ordeal.

“I represented Kemisola in court. On the 22nd of June 2021, she was granted bail by the High Court of Ondo State sitting in Akure after nine months of her arrest and remand since October 22, 2020 and after seven days she gave birth in prison.

“How many people knew that the case against the ENDSARS detainee, Kemisola, was not dropped and was prosecuted in court by the Ondo State Government ever since till the 25th day of July, 2023, that the government withdrew the charge against the young girl on the ground that it had become impossible for the prosecution to locate the vital witnesses needed for her prosecution following which the court struck out the charge.

“How many people knew that the Ondo State government held this girl in court since then and that we were in court since 2021 for Kemisola till 2023 when the charge was struck out? And not many were as lucky as Kemisola to have legal representation. What happened to those ones who did not have legal representation or who were never arraigned after being remanded?”

He, however, maintained that the police “lack the genuine record and data, as a primary source of information, to hastily respond to Shehu Sani’s patriotic call, with denial and with such vague phrase that they have been processed according to law”.

He, therefore, appealed to President Tinubu to heed the “patriotic, introspective and humanity-driven statement of Senator Shehu Sani and call on the Controller-General of Nigerian Correctional Service and the Minister of Interior to go to the records and publicize the particulars in terms of number of inmates in their custody in connection with ENDSARS across Nigeria as at October 2020 and those who have regained their freedom either by bail, discharge, acquittal or pardon”.

“The revelation might shock us all. Maybe for President Tinubu, that is where the healing process for this bleeding country you wish to govern will start,” the lawyer added. 

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