Nigerian sceptic Leo Igwe held on trumped up charges
*UPDATE* – Leo has reportedly now been released on bail, but at the time of writing still has a trumped-up murder charge hanging over him. Full details here.
Nigerian sceptic and humanist leader Leo Igwe was detained this morning, apparently on trumped up charges, and at the behest of a man who stands accused of raping a ten-year-old girl – Leo had been campaigning for justice on the girl’s behalf.
In response to this appeal I phoned the Police who were holding Leo, to ask what the basis was for his detention, and emphasise the international interest and concern around the case. If you would like to support Leo Igwe at this difficult time, this is the appeal from his family:
Leo and his father risk being tortured or murdered in police custody for his role seeking for justice for Ms Daberechi whose parents are very poor and cannot afford two meals in a day not to talk about paying legal charges.
We need to call the Police authorities in Nigeria about the risk of additional international outrage now that this fertile ground of religious bigotry and suppression of justice and human rights has already misled a citizen of ours to suicide in the name of God!
The numbers to call are : AIG Ringin: +2348033225349
PPRO Umuahia: +2347030988278
Com Aloy Okoro: +2348037217361
I am monitoring the situation closely and will report back. But anyone who is able to call will be helpful to scale up the pressure.
When I called the first number on the list and spoke to the police, they denied that Leo was formally under arrest and said that they were simply speaking to him in order to investigate the complaint that had made. They also allowed me to talk to Leo directly. Yet it did seem that Leo had been forcibly detained – he had been visited at his home by a number of men, including several soldiers, who had taken him away to the police station. Leo himself told me that he had, in fact, been arrested.
When I asked Leo what people internationally could do to support him, he emphasised the need to raise awareness both of this case, and the wider campaign of harassment that he and his family have faced over his efforts to secure justice for a young victim of rape.
Leo has reportedly been denied access to a lawyer.
In addition to calling the authorities directly on the numbers above, you can spread the word on Twitter using the hashtag #LeoIgwe, and watch for updates on the case from Alan Henness at Think Humanism.