By Izunna Okafor, Awka
A coalition of human rights activists has petitioned the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Alkali Baba Usman, over the arrest and detention of Mr. Nnamdi Emeh, a Corps member serving at the Anambra State Police Command and a perceived whistleblower.
The Corps member was earlier declared wanted in February by the operatives of the Anambra State Police Command over allegation bordering on impersonation, unlawful possession of firearm, money laundering and character defamation. He was eventually said to be arrested by the INTERPOL operatives in the Benin Republic and Nigeria on Friday, March 3, 2023, and is currently detained at the Force Headquarters in Abuja.
Howbeit, many believe that the 26-year Emeh was arrested for whistleblowing the alleged extrajudicial killings by some officers of the Anambra State Police command.
A coalition of human rights defenders, in a statement dated issued on Tuesday, March 14, alleged that the whistleblower was not arrested for any known crime other than his role in making a shocking revelation about police extortion, torture, extrajudicial executions, and organ harvesting by senior police officers in Anambra State. They said the arrestors suspected that he must be the source who gave Gistlover (an independent digital news and entertainment platform) some vital information with which it publicized the alleged atrocities of the officers.
“Shortly after the revelation, the police announced that it will launch a full-scale investigation into the allegations, but instead of taking the accused police officers into custody, they declared Nnamdi, who worked with the accused police team, wanted, for sundry offences, including suspicion that he must have passed the vital information to Gistlover blog,” the coalition said.
The coalition said it is working to preserve whistleblowing as a fundamental right of free expression. It therefore described as unfortunate, situation where laws relating to defamation, as well as the Nigerian Cybercrime Act 2015, continue to be abused and repeatedly used by the authorities in Nigeria to harass, intimidate and persecute whistle-blowers, human rights defenders and activists.
It said the Nigeria Police Force must drop what it called ‘trumped-up’ charges leveled against the whistleblower, while also urging the Force to immediately release Emeh or charge him accordingly. It also speculated that if the victim is not charged to court immediately, he could be at risk of abuse and ill-treatment in the police custody.
It maintained that the Force must end the intimidation, harassment and attacks on whistle-blowers, human rights defenders and activists as well as ensure that the report of a panel set up by the police authorities to investigate the allegation against top police officers in Anambra State is released promptly and everybody indicted, prosecuted according to the law.
It urged Federal Government to accelerate the process of enacting the Whistle-blower Protection Act to ensure the protection of whistle-blowers and human rights defenders in the country.
Members of the Coalition include:
The coalition is made up of African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL); HEDA Resource Centre, Accountability Lab; Progressive Impact Organisation for Community Development (PRIMORG); Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action); Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID); Sterling Centre for Law & Development, Access To Justice, The Southern Free Press Inc., Centre for Human Rights Advocacy & Wholesome Society (CEHRAWS); Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC); Human Rights Social Development and Environmental Foundation (HURSDEF); Confluence of Rights, Workers & Youth Solidarity Network; Rivers Civil Society Organisations; Justice for Peace and Development Initiative; Avocats Sans Frontières; and Nnaemeka Ejiofor & Associates.
They warned that the Force must end the intimidation, harassment and attacks on whistle-blowers, human rights defenders and activists as well as ensure that the report of a panel set up by the police authorities to investigate the allegation against top police officers in Anambra State is released promptly and everybody indicted, prosecuted according to the law.
They also urged Federal Government to accelerate the process of enacting the Whistle-blower Protection Act to ensure the protection of whistle-blowers and human rights defenders in the country.