The African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights has charged the federal government to probe the allegations in the undercover report on the rot in the criminal justice system.
In a three series report, the corruption in the system was exposed. From the police to prison warders to court officials.
Adopting the pseudonym Ojo Olajumoke, Fisayo Soyombo, an investigative journalist, feigned an offence for which he was arrested and detained arraigned in court and eventually remanded in prison.
He spent two weeks in detention — five days in a cell at Pedro police station and eight as an inmate in Ikoyi Prison.
Shortly after the report was published, Ja’afaru Ahmed, controller general of the Nigerian Correctional Service, said he had set up a panel to probe Ikoyi Prisons, now known as “Ikoyi Custodial Centre”.
But in a communique after its 65th ordinary session, the commission called on the federal government to act.
“That there are cogent issues raised in the investigative report, these issues cannot be ignored as these are issues that peculiarly affect the poor, women, young persons and the people vulnerable because of their real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity,” the communique read.
“A corrupt criminal justice system subjects Nigerians to arbitrary arrests, illegal detention and an erosion of their fundamental human rights to fair hearing, these issues deserve the urgent attention of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights.
“The Nigerian constitution guarantees freedom of expression and of the press, and courts in recent years have issued rulings that expanded legal protections for journalists. However, criminal and civil laws punish various press and speech offenses, including sedition, criminal defamation, and the publication of false news. Impunity for those who commit crimes against journalists remains a problem.
“We therefore call on the government of Nigeria to constitute an independent body to investigate the crucial claims contained this investigative report.”
It also expressed concerns for Soyombo’s safety.
The commission said there are reports showing an increase in the arrest of journalists and other individuals who share opinions contrary to the stance of the federal government.
“A Nigerian Journalist, Jones Abiri is facing prosecution under the Act he was held by Nigeria’s secret police without any charge for 2years and was rearrested in 2019. Agba Jalingo, a journalist and publisher is currently in jail and facing allegations of treason after he published a story on alleged diversion of N500 million by the Cross River Governor, Abubakar Idris popularly called Dadiyata was forcefully taken from his home in Kaduna, his whereabouts remain unknown,” the communique read.
The commission also called on the Nigerian government to release all journalists in detention and cease to stifle the freedom of expression as enshrined in its constitution.