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ASF France secures freedom for three detainees after eight years of detention

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As part of its efforts in promoting the enjoyment of Human Rights in Nigeria, Avocats Sans Frontières France (ASF France), has successfully enforced the fundamental human rights of three victims of arbitrary detention in Lagos state.

The victims were beneficiaries of ASF France’s pro bono legal aid, on the wings of the European Union and AFD funded “Strengthening the National Actors Capacities and Advocation for Ending Severe Human Rights Violations in Nigeria project” (SAFE) project.

They were Mr. F. Adewale, Mr. S. Ifekoya and Mr. A. Kola. They were all handled between the months of September 2020 and December 2020.

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The striking similarity amongst the three cases was that all beneficiaries had been arbitrarily detained for over eight years, with Mr. Kola spending the most over nine years in arbitrary detention.

Adewale had gone to the Police station to report a case of theft, which occurred when some women were confronting him on the issue of a missing child. He was arrested because the women made a counter-report against him, accusing him of being in possession of the missing child.

Adewale couldn’t afford the finances required to process his bail and was consequently transferred to SARS Office at Lagos State Police Command Headquarters, Ikeja.

He was then charged with armed robbery and remanded in custody. Mr. Adewale had never appeared in court since May 20, 2013.
Similarly, Ifekoya was accused of failure to prevent a felony.

He had given a lift to a friend who was wanted by the Police and couldn’t produce his friend when requested by the Police. He was then remanded in Kirikiri Medium Security Custodial Centre since 2012.

The third detainee, Mr. Kola, was also remanded in the same custody since 2012 without trial until ASF France’s intervention.
ASF France, tendered separate applications to the Lagos State High Court on behalf of the three detainees, particularly seeking for the unconditional or conditional release, citing the violation of their fundamental human rights, their rights to personal liberty and freedom of movement, provided under the sections 35 and 41 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.

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All the three applications were successful at the Lagos State High Court. In one of the judgments delivered by the Justice O.O. Abike-Fadipe, she said, “No amount of money can compensate for eight years of one’s life.”

While commending the rulings, the Head of Office of Avocats Sans Frontières France, Angela Uwandu, said, “no justice system should subject anyone to eight years awaiting trial. It is simply a failure of the system and a gross violation of the rights of citizens.

“The arbitrariness of these detentions entitles the victims to a remedy and this is what the ASF France legal team has achieved in this case. Avocats Sans Frontières France celebrates these victories, and recognises them as a step forward for rule of law and human rights protection in Nigeria,” she added.

The SAFE project is co-funded by the European Union (EU) and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), and is being implemented by Avocats Sans Frontières France in Nigeria, in partnership with the Nigerian Bar Association and the Carmelite Prisoners’ Interest Organisation.

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