Group raises alarm over fate of shot detainees in police custody

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A human right organisation, the Save Lagos Group has raised an alarm over the fate of two detained citizens in police custody whom the group said have been shot by operatives of the Nigeria Police Force on trumped up allegations.

A statement issued by the Convener of the Save Lagos Group, Comrade Adeniyi A. Sulaiman listed the detainees as Isaiah Olagunju and Taofeek Asewere and that the two are currently being detained at the Lagos State Police Command, specifically, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Ikeja.

Sulaiman in the statement made available to newsmen in Lagos on Thursday said the two detainees are currently in critical condition having been shot in the leg by operatives of the squad who he said have refused to grant them any form of contact with their families.

He added that the conduct of the operatives of the special unit runs contrary to Section 35 Sub-session 2 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which stipulates that any person accused by law enforcement agents should be given unfettered access to his or her lawyers.

“The Isaiah and Taofeek who are currently in detention are tricycle operators in Agbotikuyo area of Agege. They are innocent citizens of this country who have done nothing to infringe on the laws of the land. They are law abiding young men going about their businesses as responsible members of the society.”

According to him, the detainees were picked up after a minor clash ensued between them and some people in the area after they (police officer) had been tipped by the other party in the dispute who wanted to ‘deal’ with them for confronting them.

Sulaiman said though six of them were initially picked up by operatives of SARS, four had been released leaving both detainees whom he said are being asked to pay the sum of N250,000 each to secure their bail, a condition he said runs contrary to Section 98, 99, 494, 172, 209 of the Criminal Code and 5th Schedule, Part One, Sections 6 and 8 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

“We have been informed reliably that the two are currently suffering bullet wounds to their legs, a condition that puts their lives in a precarious situation that put their survival in jeopardy as they have not been availed medical attention since their detention for over a week.

“We are in constant touch with their family members who have told us that they have not been giving the opportunity to see them since their incarceration. They have not been charged to court for any offence neither have they been released to reasonable surety as properly spelt out in Section 35 Sub-section 4 and 5 of the same 1999 Constitution (as amended).”

He added that the practice of habitually detaining citizens without trial and unlawfully have become a very common place amongst operatives of the squad, which negates the Police Code of Conducts/Act, Human Rights Correction Act, Citizens’ Fundamental Rights Act/Law Enforcement Agency Act and the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

“We are demanding for the immediate release of the detainees unconditionally as they have been subjected to untold hardship and illegal torture in custody. We also telling them to desist from any further harassment and treat to lives of citizens of the state in the guise of performing their duties.” He said.

Sulaiman stated that the Save Lagos Group has concluded arrangement to file a suit against the police force based on what he called their “nonsensical constabulary mentality” in the way and manner they perform their duties.

He however urged operatives of the unit to rather enforce and preserve the fundamental rights of the innocent detainees and not to violate them arbitrarily as their constitutional role in the society is to ensure the protection of lives and property of the citizens of the country.

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