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Ajegunle Police Killings Update: Police Arrest Dagga Tolar and two others today
Press statement from the Democratic Socialist Movement (the Nigerian sister party of the Socialist Party)
Free all Activists now and Prosecute the killer Police Officers!
Update 2, 8/3/10 1800hrs GMT
Today, Thursday afternoon, the Lagos police said they would not press any criminal charges against Dagga Tolar and the two other DSM comrades who were arrested on Wednesday when they reported to the police after being freed from custody late last night.
It seems that the police have retreated. At the same time the police have released nearly all the youths arrested in Ajegunle since the original April 1 murder of Charles Okoroafor.
A key part in this success has been the impact of the international campaign of the different sections of the Committee for a Workers International in support of the DSM that started immediately after the arrest of the DSM comrades.
The Nigerian comrades wish to thank the comrades of the Committee for a Workers International sections internationally for their rapid response.
Later the DSM plans to produce material analysing the significance these events, both in terms of the situation on the ground in Nigeria and the police's rapid retreat.
Update 8/3/10 11am GMT:
Editorial note from the Committee for a Workers' International secretariat on the following press release:
Very late on Wednesday night Dagga and the two other arrested DSM comrades were released from police arrest.
This was largely due to the international pressure that comrades already organised and because the police were fearful of possible repercussions in Nigeria.
However this was not an unconditional release.
The comrades have been required to report to the police today (Thursday) morning and the police are saying that they will charge them will inciting a mob or other serious charges.
Therefore we are asking that any protests made in the coming hours should concentrate on the comrades not been charged with an offence.
We hope that by around 15.00 GMT/UTC we will have more information and be able to inform comrades of what may need to be done.
Press release from the Nigerian Democratic Socialist Movement:
Police today April 7, 2010 arrested Dagga Tolar, the Secretary of the Lagos state chapter of Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) and a member of Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), Akpos Okoro, community activist and Aderemi Ismail, community activist and organizer, Ajegunle Branch of DSM.
The DSM condemns theses mindless arrests and calls for the immediate release of these activists and those that have been earlier arrested and detained in connection with the April 3 peaceful protest.
The activists were arrested by 1pm in the office of the Chairman of Ajeromi Local Government Ajegunle, Mr. Kamal Bayewu, who had invited them to a meeting over the crisis in the community. They were moved to the Area B Police Command Apapa.
The arrests are connection with a protest held on April 3 following the gruesome murder of Charles Okoroafor by the police on April 1 at a viewing centre in Ajegunle.
The April 3 protest was peaceful until the police on the order of Area B Apapa Police Commander, , ACP Kenneth Ebirimson, bestially shot at the protesters and left dead at least 4 youths including Tunde Olotu.
The police authorities, who have shamelessly labelled protesters as "hoodlums", have since April 3 protest started to indiscriminately arrest youths in the neighbourhood and detain them illegally.
They have also been going from house to house looking for community activists. Before today arrests, about 30 youths had been arrested and there is a plan by the police to impose on them criminal charges.
Already, the PRO of Lagos State Police Command, Frank Mba, has been reported in newspapers claiming that the arrested youths who participated in April 3 protest were found with pistols, live ammunition, cutlasses etc.
Therefore, most likely Dagga Tolar, who is also the Chairman of Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Lagos State Chapter, and others will be charged with criminal offences in order to deny them bail.
It will be recalled on April 5 Dagga Tolar addressed a massively attended and widely reported press conference organized by LASCO Lagos State Chapter to denounce the mindless killings and demand, among other issues, justice for the victims and an end to police brutality in Ajegunle and other communities.
We demand the immediate and unconditional release of Dagga Tolar and the other activists. Otherwise, we challenge the police to arraign them in court if found culpable of any offence. We hold that the police are embarking on arbitrary and criminal arrests of the activists in order to cover up the crime of its officers.
We call on the, NLC, TUC and Nigeria Bar Association other pro-people organizations to join in the struggle to put a stop to these mindless repressions of Ajegunle residents, for the police officers responsible for killings of Charles Okoroafor, Tunde Olotu and others to be brought to justice and immediate and unconditional release of those arrested in connection with April 3 protest.
The Area Commander of Apapa, ACP Kenneth Ebirimson, who ordered the shooting of the protesters should be removed, arrested and prosecuted.
We join with LASCO to demand the following:
For a immediate public probe inquiry made up of representatives of the Trade Unions, the NBA, human and civil right organizations, community organizations, and NGOs to be set up in order to unravel the circumstances that led to the death of Charles Okorafor, Tunde Olotu and others.
For a coroner's inquest into the killing of these young men.
For immediate arrest and prosecution of all the police officers that were involved in the raid that led to the death of Mr.
Charles Okorafor and those that killed Tunde Olotu and others.
Immediate and unconditional release of all residents arrested in connection with the protest.
Relocation of police officers who have served more than 4 or 5 years out of Ajegunle, as well as all DPOs that have in any way aided their officers to engage in this illegal raid.
Immediate removal and prosecution of ACP Kenneth Ebirimson, the Police Area Commander of Apapa who ordered shooting at the protesters on April 3, 2010
An immediate end to all forms of exploitative activities and police brutality in Ajegunle and other communities across the country where such indiscriminate raids, extortion of money, and false imprisonment persist daily.
For a living wage not less than N52, 200, as put forward by the Trade Unions for all workers as well as all rank and file police officers and members of the armed force in order to discourage extortionist activities by the police.
For a democratic police union so that rank and file police officers can use this as a platform to struggle for better welfare and living condition.
For democratic controlled community policing wherein officers in charge will be elected by the rank and file police officers and the community representatives and subjected to recall anytime and will earn the average wage of a skilled worker.
For the establishment of Local and State public funded Legal Service Unit to provide free legal services for all in need of it so that the underprivileged will have access to justice.
As an immediate measure needed to checkmate and forestall this kind of disastrous and unsavoury happenings, the DSM advocates the formation of democratically run community defence committees that are composed of trade unions elements, socialists, community activists and youth activists.
We appeal for protest letters to be sent to the Nigeria Police authorities and Nigeria embassies across the world.
Where possible it will be appreciated if there could be protests at Nigerian embassies. Calls should be made to the Inspector-General of Police and the Nigerian Attorney General to immediately release the arrested without charge.
The following officers of Lagos state police command can be called to register the protest: Mervel Akpoyibo, Lagos State Commissioner of Police - +234 803 301 1052 and Frank Mba, Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer - +234 803 837 5844.
Please send copies of and information about any protests to the DSM at the above addresses.