SPACES FOR YOUTH DEVELOPMENT AND SOCIAL CHANGE (SPACES FOR CHANGE) is deeply concerned about the continued detention of 25 year old Lawrence Lilo who has been languishing in the detention facility of the 33 Artillery Brigade of the Nigerian Army in Shadawanka Baracks, Bauchi State, Nigeria, since March 29, 2012.
He was among the residents of Bacha community in Shadawanka Barracks, Bauchi State that were arrested and unlawfully detained for allegedly resisting the March 29, 2012 eviction attempts by the army authorities. The inhabitants of Bacha community are mainly teachers of the Command Secondary School, Bauchi and low-income families, young artisans working in unskilled, unprotected and low-wage informal service industries and trade. They pay rents annually to the military authorities, and many of them had lived there for several years ranging from 7 – 18 years.
On that day, the OC intelligence led the team that invaded and terrorized the community with eviction threats. 9 men were beaten in front of their wives and children, arrested and whisked off to the 33 Artillery Brigade at Shadawanka Barracks where they were detained overnight.
Lawrence Lilo was particularly ordered to pack his belongings by one soldier named, Dan Sokoto of the 211 Artillery Brigade. Dan Sokoto and Lawrence Lilo are known to be neighbours with a history of relationship difficulties. Dan Sokoto allegedly seized the opportunity provided by the eviction operation to make good his threats "to deal with Lawrence one day". In the process of packing, Dan Sokoto and a colleague descended heavily on him, beating, maiming and seriously wounding him in the process. Several eye witnesses that saw Lawrence bleeding from his nose and mouth alerted SPACES FOR CHANGE.
Some concerned residents reported the incident to the military police section of the Artillery Brigade. Some officials of the military police rushed down to the scene and whisked Lawrence away. At their office at the 33 Artillery Brigade, Lawrence was subjected to even more intense beating and torture. He received a total of 125 strokes of cane in three days! The severe beatings were accompanied with hard labour such as digging pits, sweeping and fetching water for soldiers. Lawrence is still detained at the detention facility of the 33 Artillery Brigade where he is serving series of punishments despite his frail health.
He is the first child in a family of 12. Having lost his father at an early age, he assumed the role of the family breadwinner, and could not further his studies. His family and dependants have had difficulty in feeding and sustaining themselves due to his absence.
SPACES FOR CHANGE strongly condemns the continued detention of Lawrence Lilo, the brutish intrusion into people’s privacy and massive due process breaches that characterized the eviction attempts by the military authorities. First, by failing to issue appropriate notices, and holding meaningful consultations with residents; second, by directly harming people’s rights through violent attacks, arrests and unlawful detention; and third, by not taking adequate measures to ensure the constitutional rights and liberties of citizens are respected and safeguarded, the actions of the military authorities constitute threats to public peace and safety and gross violations of fundamental human rights, including the social and economic rights of citizens espoused in wide-ranging national, regional and international standard setting documents.
By this statement, SPACES FOR CHANGE is appealing to the Inspector General of Police, the Attorney General of the Federation and the National Human Rights Commission to investigate the military invasion, arrests and unlawful detention of innocent citizens with a view to identifying the perpetrators and bringing them to justice. In particular, we demand for the immediate release of Lawrence Lilo.
We demand the 33 Artillery Brigade to immediately halt the unjustified attacks on helpless community residents, including all planned forced evictions and demolitions of people’s homes, churches, schools and businesses without recourse to due process and the rule of law. We also call on all human rights groups, the media and well meaning Nigerians to press on the 33 Artillery Brigade to immediately release Lawrence Lilo from detention.
SPACES FOR CHANGE is committed to protecting and promoting the rights of the populations affected by the arbitrary detentions and planned evictions, and is fully determined to utilize all democratic and legitimate options to vindicate their trampled rights.
Spaces for Change