A coalition of 300 women-led Civil Society groups and individuals have condemned the arrest and detention of 30 unarmed nude women who protested the Nasarawa State gubernatorial verdict.
The Police in Nasarawa State, on Jan. 20 arrested 38 protesters for alleged public disturbance over the recent Supreme Court judgment, which upheld the election of Gov. Abdullahi Sule.
The suspects were immediately charged in court and remanded at the Lafia Custodial Centre.
Nkoyo Toyo, representing the Gender and Development Action-GADA who signed on behalf of the coalition in a statement in Abuja described it as an “illegal attack on innocent women.”
“Nigerians are unhappy to hear of the arrest, prosecution and persecution of 30 women in Nasarawa, among others. This is for exercising their rights to protest against an INEC instigated miscarriage of justice in the Nasarawa gubernational election of 2023, and the decision of the Supreme Court which upheld the results as declared.
“The prosecution of these women shows the failure of the Nigerian 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 personnel. 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, ” she said.
She added that the Project-Free Nasarawa 30 comprising of civil rights activists, citizens’ journalists, rights’ organisations and international advocacy and solidarity groups demanding the immediate release of the Nasarawa 30.
“Project – Free Nasarawa 30 rejects the tactics and aggression against these women, and calls for the immediate review of their bail conditions. This will 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,” she said.
Other signatories include Prof. Joy Ezeilo, Women Aid Collective (WACOL); Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, Co-Convener, Womenifesto; Dr Eki Yemisi-Omorogbe, International Law and Policy in Africa Network.
Others are Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, Atrocities Watch Africa (AWA); Richard Inoyo, Citizens Solution Network; Yemi Adamolekun, Enough is Enough; Adaora Sydney-Jack, Gender Strategy Advancement, among others.