Home News 100+ CSOs demand release of 30 Nasarawa women detained for protesting S/Court judgement on governorship election

100+ CSOs demand release of 30 Nasarawa women detained for protesting S/Court judgement on governorship election

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More than 100 civil society groups under the banner of ‘Project-Free Nasarawa 30’ have demanded the immediate release of 30 women arrested and detained by the Nigeria Police Force for protesting naked in the state against the outcome of governorship election in the state.

The Nasarawa State command had confirmed the arrest of no fewer than 30 protesters who were kicking against the outcome of the Supreme Court judgement which affirmed Governor Abdullahi Sule as winner of the 18th March 2023 governorship election in the state.

The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hon. David Ombugadu had dragged Sule of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to court, challenging his 2023 election victory.

On 2nd October, the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal sacked the governor and declared Ombugadu as winner of the poll. Both both the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court affirmed affirmed Sule’s election.

Confirming the arrest of the women, the Nasarawa State Police Public Relations Officer, Deputy Superintendent Ramhan Nansel said, that apart from the 38 suspects arrested by the command, 29 motorcycles were recovered by its personnel during the protests which took place in Lafia, the state capital.

The police spokesperson further explained that the protesters were arrested because they violated a peace agreement recently reached by stakeholders of the APC and PDP in the state ahead of the Supreme Court judgement.

The state chairman of the PDP, Mr. Francis Orogu accused the governor of having a hand in the ordeal being faced by the detained protesters and PDP women. He accused Sule of having a hand in the women’s ordeal, noting that they had held several prayer sessions and staged numerous peaceful protests against his earlier declaration as governor by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

In a statement on Tuesday, jointly signed by over 100 civil society groups, the groups said that “Nigerians are unhappy to hear of the arrest, prosecution and persecution of the over 30 women in Nasarawa, among others, for exercising their rights to protest against an INEC instigated miscarriage of justice in the Nasarawa gubernatorial election of 2023, and the decision of the Supreme Court which upheld the results as declared.

“The prosecution of these 30 women shows the failure of the Nigeria Police Force and the Government of Nasarawa State in Nigeria to uphold the right of citizens under the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to protest, assemble and freely express themselves.

“These women were nude, demonstrating clearly that they were both committed to peaceable protest and unarmed. It is a travesty to then accuse them of being violent when in fact, they were the people violated by the attack from the uniformed personnels, including with projectiles”.

The groups alleged that “security agents, nearly all of them male, assaulted, beat up, shot at, and seriously injured some of these women in clear violation of the Constitution and in full public view. Locking them up in indefinite pre-trial detention at the instance of those whom they were protesting against constitutes political persecution”.

According to them, “the misuse of security services and the abuse through the judiciary to promote partisan propaganda and political agenda should be rejected by all and it is upon this ideological and ethical basis that ‘Project – Free Nasarawa 30′ is rallying its regional and international network to ensure that the further violation of the rights of these women stops with a call on the government of Nasarawa State to end the abusive use of state power

“Project – Free Nasarawa 30 is a national and non-partisan coalition comprising of civil right activists, citizens’ journalists, rights’ organisations and international advocacy and solidarity groups demanding the immediate release of the Nasarawa 30, a group of women currently in jail over no crime they committed even as contained in the unacceptable charges filed by the current Nasarawa State government against these women for exercising their rights to assemble and express themselves.

“Project – Free Nasarawa 30 rejects is totally the tactics and aggression against these women, and calls for the immediate review of their bail conditions to grant them freedom without the culture of punitive bail terms that have been unethically and wrongly adopted by the current judicial bench to justify empty allegations against the Nasarawa 30.

“An attack on the Nasarawa 30 is an attack on all women across the globe. End the persecution now! Free Nasarawa 30 unconditionally today”!

Among the signatories to the statement were Dr. Eki Yemisi Omorogbe (International Law and Policy in Africa Network), Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi (Co-Convener, Womenifesto), Ambassador Nkoyo Toyo (Gender and Development Action), Chidi Anselm Odinkalu (Atrocities Watch Africa), Richard Inoyo (Citizens Solution Network) and Yemi Adamolekun (Enough is Enough).

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