Police ‘move activist Deji Adeyanju out of Abuja’

The Nigerian political activist, Deji Adeyanju, who was rearrested last week by the police, has been transferred from Abuja to Kano where authorities claim he has questions to answer in a murder case that was closed nearly a decade ago, his associates told us on Tuesday.

Mr Adeyanju was acquitted in the case in 2009, but the police have indicated they are revisiting the matter, a move activists say is an attempt by the Buhari administration to clampdown on a critical voice.

Mr Adeyanju’s associates said his transfer to Kano was part of a plot by the Police to “eliminate” the activist. Mr Adeyanju has yet to be charged five days after his latest arrest.

“We wish to urgently draw the attention of Nigerians and the international community to the illegal incarceration, ethnocentric persecution, and state-engineered lethal plot to assassinate Comrade Deji Adeyanju, one of Nigeria’s leading civil rights activists by the government of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, using the institution of the Nigerian Police Force through the office of the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Kpotum Idris,” the activists said in a prepared statement at a press conference Tuesday.

The press conference was addressed by Ariyo-Dare Atoye, Raphael Adebayo and Moses Paul, three Abuja-based rights activists who have worked to get the police to release Mr Adeyanju since he was arrested last week.

The police held Mr Adeyanju at about 3:00 p.m. on Thursday as he went to pick up his phone at the Inspector-General of Police Monitoring Unit in Abuja. He was asked to come for the last of the three phones seized from him by the police when he was first arrested in late November and spent eight nights in custody.

Mr Adeyanju’s associates said the police had no grounds to re-arrest the activist, much less keep him behind bars without public explanation for five days.

A senior police source in Abuja confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES over the weekend that the activist was being held because homicide detectives wanted to clarify some grey areas arising from the trial, which ran from 2005 until Mr Adeyanju was discharged and acquitted in 2009.

Mr Adeyanju’s latest detention has been condemned by rights activists who spoke with us, including Amnesty International which warned Nigerian government against violation of the activist’s rights and said it was monitoring the situation.

Festus Keyamo,the spokesperson for Mr Buhari’s re-election campaign, was Mr Adeyanju’s defence lawyer in the 2009 homicide case. He told PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday that the activist was indeed discharged and acquitted, and made available the court documents which PREMIUM TIMES published over the weekend.

“In this latest act of desperation by the Buhari government to silence, detain and possibly eliminate Comrade Deji Adeyanju, the Nigeria Police have now illegally and wickedly elected to review a case of culpable Homicide, from which he was discharged and acquitted about 10 years ago, ignoring the long-established principle of Utre Fois Acquit – which makes the case a dead issue that cannot be reawakened,” those campaigning for Mr Adeyanju’s release said Tuesday.

“Again, we wish to reiterate, as mentioned during our press conference one week ago, we have been informed by multiple veritable sources that the nucleus of the continued persecution of Comrade Deji Adeyanju is a state-backed lethal plot to eliminate him and other fearsome activists in the country.

“We are compelled, therefore, to state unequivocally that should anything untoward happen to our comrade Deji Adeyanju, the remaining days of the present regime of General Buhari shall witness neither peace nor tranquility.

“While the Buhari government and Police have in flagrant violation of our laws chosen to embark on this fruitless voyage of illegal discovery, we are shocked by their recoil into ethnoreligious biases and vendetta, arresting only Deji Adeyanju – the only Yoruba-Christian in a group of four persons that include three Hausa-Fulanis, that were discharged and acquitted.

“It is, therefore, unfortunate that while the present regime of General Buhari continues to give a false impression – to Nigerians and especially the international community – that it is committed to a united Nigeria that is free of ethnic bigotry and intolerance, its actions, however, especially as it relates to respect for human rights and dissenting voices, have proved otherwise.”

The Abuja police commissioner, Bala Ciroma, told us that he did not know whether Mr Adeyanju had been transferred from Abuja. His counterpart in Kano, Rabiu Yusuf, declined to speak on the matter when contacted.

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