The Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN) has written to Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria's Vice-President, over the arraignment and continued detention of 112 women in Owerri, Imo State.
In the letter, NOPRIN bemoaned that the arrest of the women, which it said came days after the arrest and detention of a journalist, in an attempt to force him to disclose the source of a story he wrote.
NOPRIN wrote: “Just few days after the Nigeria Police exposed the country to shame by arresting a Premium Times reporter…we are confronted with yet another episode of arresting unarmed, harmless women for embarking on a peaceful protest demanding the release of their leader.”
NOPRIN posited that the arrest of the women who were exercising their constitutional right and subsequent remand in prison portends damage to the democratic credentials of the government.
The organisation urged the Vice-President to immediately order the release of the women, adding that the actions of the women do not, in any way, warrant being arrested.
“These actions do not amount to conducting an illegal assembly and holding an unlawful protest, as the Imo State Police Command claimed, and on the basis of which they arrested, detained and charged the women.”
NOPRIN also urged Osinbajo to work towards ending further police harassment of citizens and abridgement of citizens' rights.