By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has sent a petition to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention over alleged Federal and Kogi State arbitrary detention and ill-treatment of activists Larry Emmanuel and Victor Anene Udoka for peacefully exercising their right to protest in Kogi state.
In the complaint dated May 25, 2021, by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “The detention of Larry Emmanuel and Victor Anene Udoka constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of their liberty because it does not have any legal justification. The detention also does not meet minimum international standards of due process.”
SERAP, in a complaint, addressed to Ms Elina Steinerte Chairman/Rapporteur of the Working Group, therefore, called on the Working Group to “initiate a procedure involving the investigation of the cases of Larry Emmanuel and Victor Anene Udoka, and urgently send an allegation letter to the Nigerian and Kogi State Government inquiring about the case generally, and specifically about the legal basis for their arrest, detention, and ill-treatment, each of which is in violation of international law.”
It also urged the Working Group to “issue an opinion declaring that Larry Emmanuel and Victor Anene Udoka’s deprivation of liberty and detention is arbitrary and in violation of Nigeria’s Constitution and obligations under international law. We also urge the Working Group to call for the immediate release of Larry Emmanuel and Victor Anene Udoka.”
According to SERAP, “We urge the Working Group to request the Nigerian and Kogi state authorities to investigate and hold accountable all persons responsible for the unlawful arrest, continued detention, and ill-treatment of Larry Emmanuel and Victor Anene Udoka in Kogi state.”
SERAP, also called on the Working Group “to request the Nigerian and Kogi state authorities to award Larry Emmanuel and Victor Anene Udoka adequate compensation for the violations they have endured as a result of their unlawful arrest, arbitrary detention, and ill-treatment.”
It continued: “As set forth in this Individual Complaint, the Nigerian and Kogi State authorities are arbitrarily depriving Larry Emmanuel and Victor Anene Udoka of their liberty and continues to arbitrarily detain them. Larry Emmanuel and Victor Anene Udoka are citizens of Nigeria and have been detained since 5th April 2021. They continue to be detained without access to the outside world.
“Pursuant to the mandate of the Working Group, the “Manual of Operations of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council” and the publication “Working with the UN Human Rights Programme, a Handbook for Civil Society”, SERAP, a non-governmental human rights organization, can provide information on a specific human rights case or situation in a particular country, or on a country’s laws and practices with human rights implications.
“SERAP, therefore, argues that the case adequately satisfies the requirements by which to submit an individual complaint to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
“SERAP respectfully requests the Working Group to initiate the procedure involving the investigation of individual cases toward reaching an opinion declaring Larry Emmanuel and Victor Anene Udoka’s detention to be arbitrary and in violation of international law. To this end, SERAP will pursue the regular communications procedure before the Working Group in order to have the ability to provide comments on any response by the Nigerian and Kogi State authorities.
“The government of President Muhammadu Buhari is responsible under the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) and international law to protect the safety and rights of protesters and create an environment conducive to a diverse and pluralistic expression of ideas and peaceful dissent from government policy.
“The wave of protests against repression by both the Federal and Kogi state authorities illustrate a broken social contract between the authorities and Nigerians. The authorities have been failing to meet the demands of Nigerians to respect human rights, end restrictions on civic space, obey court orders and ensure the rule of law.”