According to a report by SaharaReporters, the trial of a computer programmer, Imoleayo Michael will continue on Thursday at a Magistrate’s Court in Gwagwalada over his alleged involvement in the #EndSARS protest which rocked the country in 2020.
Though Michael was not on the streets of Abuja during the #EndSARS protest in the city, his tweets showed that he had been openly critical of bad governance in Nigeria and was in support of the protest.
Imoleayo, in November 2020 was arrested in his house by operatives of the State Security Service (also known as the Department of State Services) in the middle of the night, some of whom were dressed in military camouflage, tore the net to their room and threatened to shoot, his wife, Titilayo Adeyeun told SaharaReporters at the time.
The young man spent 36 days in the detention of the DSS before his family could gain access to him. He was released 41 days after his arrest.
SaharaReporters has however learnt that the young man will be arraigned today, Thursday, February 17 before a Magistrate’s Court in Gwagwalada, Abuja.
According to Amnesty International’s Media and Communications Manager, Isa Sanusi, Imoleayo was arraigned on Wednesday and the trial continues on Thursday.
He said it is not clear when it will be over.
“The trial started yesterday, the case is going on today (Thursday), from yesterday till today. We don't know how long it will go so I think it is important to bring attention to the case. He was held in an underground cell for 41 days,” he said.
Imoleayo, SaharaReporters learnt, is being accused of ‘conspiracy with others to disturb public peace’ and ‘disturbing public peace’.
Imoleayo told journalists last year: “They (SSS) are pressing hard in court to have me convicted. They are really, really pressing hard. I had thought that after 41 days in their detention, that would be the end of the case, but I have realised that they are taking the matter as seriously as anything.”
A petition from Amnesty International reads, “Imoleayo was taken from his home in the middle of the night. Twenty armed men raided his home in Abuja, Nigeria while his family were locked in a room.
“He was taken by the authorities two weeks after attending an #EndSARs protest in October 2020 which saw young people across Nigeria marching against violence, extortion and killings by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, popularly known as SARS.
“Imoleayo, a young computer programmer, promoted the protests online using the viral hashtag #EndSARS.
“Officers shattered his bedroom window and pointed a gun at him, forcing him to open his front door. They then seized his phone and computer, locked his wife, elderly mother and seven-month-old son in a room and disconnected the power supply to the streetlights around his house.
“After they took him away from his family, the Nigerian authorities brought Imoleayo to State Security Service headquarters where they held him in an underground cell for 41 days without access to a lawyer or his family.
“While there, he was cuffed, blindfolded and chained to a steel cabinet. He was also forced to sleep on a bare floor. All he had to eat was some porridge mixed with stones. Security officers interrogated him a total of five times.
“Imoleayo suffered pneumonia and was eventually released on bail in December 2020. He is now facing trumped-up charges of ‘conspiracy with others to disturb public peace’ and ‘disturbing public peace’. Imoleayo is one of many people at risk of punishment for speaking out in Nigeria. The trumped-up charges against him must be dropped immediately.”