When young people took to Nigeria’s capital Abuja in October 2020, Imoleayo Michael joined them. They were marching against violence, extortion and killings by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, popularly known as SARS. The young computer programmer promoted the protests on Twitter and Facebook, using the viral hashtag #EndSARS.
Two weeks later, in the early hours of 13 November, 20 armed men raided Imoleayo’s home. They shattered his bedroom window and pointed a gun at him, forcing him to open his front door. Once inside, they seized his mobile phones and computer, then locked his wife, elderly mother and seven-month-old son in a room and disconnected the power supply to the streetlights around his house.
They took 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’s facing trumped-up charges of ‘conspiracy with others to disturb public peace’ and ‘disturbing public peace’.
Tell Nigeria to drop all charges against Imoleayo.