Amnesty International (AI) has called on the Nigeria police force to urgently release Maryam Awaisu, a gender activist arrested on Tuesday.
Awaisu, one of the leaders of the #ArewaMeToo movement was reportedly picked up by operatives of the special anti-robbery squad (SARS) in Kaduna state.
The movement which began recently is seeking justice for victims of sexual violence in Nigeria.
Osai Ojigho, AI director in Nigeria, said Aiwasu did no wrong to warrant her arrest.
“Authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Maryam Aiwasu who has done nothing more than speaking up for women’s rights,” she said.
“Her arrest appears to be an attempt to intimidate and harass both her and other women supporting #ArewaMeToo – a movement seeking justice for victims of sexual violence in Nigeria.”
She further said the police attempted to gain access to Awaisu’s laptop and mobile phone “by force” while trying to arrest her.
According to her, the act is an effort to “access the sensitive evidence” she and other human rights defenders have been gathering to seek justice for victims of sexual violence.
“Maryam and the other brave human rights defenders working with the #ArewaMeToo movement must not be silenced or punished for the vital work they do,” she added.
“For too long, Nigeria’s women have been facing various kinds of sexual violence that seldom receives proper attention from the country’s law enforcement agencies.
“It is unacceptable that women working on behalf of these victims are subjected to such arrest and intimidation, and we fear that these actions may prevent victims of sexual violence from pursuing justice.”
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