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Human rights lawyer, Ayo Sogunro

22.06.2023 news Abuja Police Arrest Lawyer in His Hotel Room — For Receiving a Married Woman

Published 22nd Jun, 2023

By Daniel Ojukwu

Ayo Sogunro, a human rights lawyer, has detailed how policemen in Abuja forced their way into his hotel room, harassed and arrested him on Friday evening.

In a Twitter thread published on Wednesday, Sogunro said the police trailed one of his female friends to his hotel room and picked her up.

He said while he was protesting, they said it was wrong for her to visit a man in a hotel as she was married. He told them a host of his friends were coming over to welcome him to the city and there was nothing untoward between them, but the police arrested him when his agitations persisted.

Sogunro said when he was taken to the police station in the Garki area of Abuja, the DPO of the station told him the penal code operational in northern Nigeria forbade a married woman from being in such an environment with another man, and that was grounds for the police’s intervention.

His tweet read in part, “I had come to Abuja to facilitate a human rights meeting with several NGOs, and my accommodation was also booked at the hotel where the meeting would be taking place.

“Soon as I landed, I sent messages to my friends in Abuja confirming that I was around.

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“As always, whenever I am in Nigeria, my friends would come welcome me at my accommodation, share a drink or two and generally gist. This time was no different.

“One of them promised to stop by on her way home from work, also in the area.

“Of the people I texted, she was the first to get to my place. I had checked into the hotel around 6.20 pm, and she got there around 6.40 pm. Barely 15 minutes later, three police officers came to my door.

“When the police arrived at my door, they asked to be let inside.

“I denied them entrance and told them they had no authority to enter a private space without a warrant or a clear just cause. Instead, they just pushed me aside and made their way in. On seeing my friend, they asked her to come with them. We both asked why. The police replied that because my friend was a married woman, she should not have been in the hotel with me.

“I said this was ridiculous. She was a citizen of Nigeria and had a right to meet with anyone.

“The officers insisted that she must come with them and so must I for ‘questioning’.”

He said more officers soon arrived the scene, and there were six policemen around, while hotel staff were also at the scene.

“Eventually, the officers got fed up with my refusal to voluntarily accompany them and then said they were putting me under arrest — still no clear allegation or reason,” Sogunro added.

“My friend and I then followed them out of the hotel where a van was waiting, and they took us to the station.

“Up to this point, I still had my phone on me. I wasn’t touched or cuffed or assaulted by the officers. Our interaction throughout was verbal only. I was able to use my phone to make calls and alert people about what was unfolding.”

He said they were both taken to the station where he came face to face with the DPO who mentioned the penal code. This DPO, Sogunro added, accused him of enticing his friend.

He said the police “got fed up with my sermon” and the DPO asked that they book him and take him to a cell.

By Saturday, he wrote a statement, made peace with the police and was let go.

Sogunro said he felt there were “systemic issues in the policing process that need to be addressed,” and he worried about how the less-privileged Nigerian might be unable stand up for themself.

Ojukwu is a reporter with FIJ in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe.

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Published 22nd Jun, 2023

By Daniel Ojukwu

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