Imoleayo Michael

Locked in an underground cell for protesting police violence


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, 20 armed men raided Imoleayo’s home in the early hours of the morning. 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 they 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 forced to sleep on a bare floor and fed 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’.

Imoleayo has done nothing wrong. You can help him secure his freedom, so he and his family can feel safe again. With enough pressure, we can get the charges dropped against Imoleayo and help make Nigeria a safer place for people who speak out for human rights. Add your name to the petition now.

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