Drop charges against corps member, CSO tells police

A civil society organisation, African Centre for Media and Information Literacy, has charged the Nigeria Police to drop all charges against the 26-year-old whistle-blower and corps member, Emeh Nnamdi.

In a joint press statement on Tuesday, the group said Nnamdi’s only crime was that he had revealed details of police extortion, torture, extrajudicial executions, and organ harvesting by senior police officers in Anambra State.

According to the statement, Nnamdi had been taken into custody on March 3, 2023, by a joint operation of the INTERPOL and the Nigeria Police, after he had been on the run for two weeks. The police had declared Nnamdi wanted for crimes of “unlawful possession of a firearm, money laundering, defamation of character, fraud, and impersonation.”

AFRICMIL said the police had announced that they would launch an investigation into the allegations made by Nnamdi after a news blog site, Gistlover, had published the story with video evidence of former detainees, who were forced to confess to serious crimes and who disappeared shortly after. They said the police had declared Nnamdi wanted, rather than invite the indicted officers for questioning.

The group argued that whistle-blowers were important to the promotion of human rights while adding that no one should be charged under any law for disclosing information about human rights violations by the police or the government.

The group called for an end to the intimidation and harassment of whistle-blowers and called on the Federal Government to accelerate the process of enacting the Whistle-blower Protection Act.

Part of the statement read, “Twenty-six-year-old Nnamdi was taken into custody on March 3, 2023, by INTERPOL after two weeks on the run. He is currently detained at the Force Headquarters in Abuja where he faces the possibility of ill-treatment, instead of being protected by the police, for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and exposing human rights violations.

Whistle-blowers are vital for a transparent society. By exercising the right to inform and be informed and the right of people to know, whistle-blowers play a crucial part in the realisation of accountability and good governance.

“It is unfortunate that the 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.”

“We, therefore, the undersigned, are calling on the Nigeria Police Force to immediately release and drop the charges against Nnamdi and other whistle-blowers and ensure that they do not suffer any retaliation.

“End the intimidation, harassment and attacks on whistle-blowers, human rights defenders and activists; 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; and the Federal Government should accelerate the process of enacting the Whistle-blower Protection Act to ensure the protection of whistle-blowers and human rights defenders.”

The statement was signed by the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy, HEDA Resource Centre, Accountability Lab, Progressive Impact Organisation for Community Development, Social Development Integrated Centre,  Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development, and the Sterling Centre for Law and Development, among others.

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