Ada is determined to see justice served for the disappearance of her brother, Chijioke Iloanya. Chijioke’s case was part of what fueled the 2020 #EndSARS protest after he went missing in 2012. The notorious Awkuzu SARS in Anambra, where Chijoke lived with his family, is said to be responsible, and there’s a face and name for who to hold accountable. Now, Ada is staging a solo protest at the National Assembly in Abuja, demanding justice for her brother and other victims of police brutality. 

The Nigeria Police Force’s vision is “To make Nigeria safer and more secure…to create a safe and secure environment for everyone living in Nigeria.”

However, this vision has been nothing short of a nightmare for Ada and her family, who have been searching for elusive justice for the past 11 years. Ada narrated to Citizen everything that has led her up to this moment.

Walk us through why you’re staging this protest

My brother, Chijioke, was arrested by the Nigerian police on November 29, 2012. Then he was transferred to Awkuzu Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Anambra state before my mum could bail him out.

When my parents tried to bail him out at Awkuzu SARS, they denied having him at first. My parents were about to leave the station when they saw my brother being led in, and my mum raised the alarm that he was the one they came to bail out. My parents were thrown out, and it would take several days before they were allowed into the station.

When they eventually got access, they met James Nwafor, the officer in charge of the SARS unit. When my mum asked for my brother, he told her that if it was those boys (including my brother) she was looking for, he’d already killed them and that there was nothing she could do about it.

My mum slumped when she heard it and was taken to the hospital. This started this journey for us, and we’ve been trying to get justice in different ways. In 2019, I wrote about it on Twitter. In 2020, I called out James Nwafor because I saw his handle on Twitter.

I’ve written petitions to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). I’ve also written petitions to different Inspector Generals of the Police

We went to the #EndSARS panel in 2020. The Anambra state government hasn’t made the panel’s recommendations and findings public. No whitepaper has been released either. Nothing has happened. James Nwafor is still a free man while we’re still in the pain of losing our brother and son. Other families have lost someone to James Nwafor, and others have been victims of police brutality. 

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It’s tough what you and your family have had to go through

I started this protest on July 3. It will go on for ten days, ending on July 13. The reason it’s happening now is because it’s going to three years since we wrote a petition and went to a panel for #EndSARS to demand justice over the death of my brother, Chijioke. 

The panel made findings and recommendations, but we’ve not gotten that yet, up till now. I’m also doing this because I’m getting tired. I have a life outside of this. My life revolves around Chijioke, and I would like justice for him. It draws me back whenever someone sees me and asks if something has been done about my brother’s case. I have no good answer to that, and that has to change.

July is also Chijioke’s birth month, which makes this symbolic. His birthday is July 13, which I’ve chosen as the day to end the protest. Because I’ve fought for justice for my brother, other people who have been victims of police brutality have reached out to me as a point of contact. They tell me about family members they’ve lost, and I feel so bad I can do nothing for them. The least I can do is use my voice to speak on their behalf. So while I’m advocating for Chijioke, I’m also trying to get justice for them because we deserve it.

How’s it been so far?

I’ve been pushing, although it’s been getting harder and harder. Yesterday’s protest was harder than Monday’s because the sun was scorching hot, and I had to stand for long hours without a place to sit. When I get tired, I sit at the barricades, which still places me under the sun’s searing heat.

It rained in the morning today so I couldn’t start early. But I’m here now, protesting. I’ve noticed that people have been asking me to go to Ahmed Isah (Ordinary Ahmed of Brekete Family). But when I first tweeted about it, some people like Segalink tried to help, but nothing happened. So I’m conflicted. Do I reach out to him? Would it change anything or not? Also, it’s not just about me. What about other families? It’s a little convenient for me because I’m based in Abuja but what about them? Do they spend their money to come to Abuja to meet Ahmed when it’s easier to arrest James Nwafor immediately? 

What would you like to see happen?

Start the investigation and prosecution of James Nwafor immediately. Let each state release its #EndSARS panel reports, whitepapers and recommendations to the public. It makes no sense for ordinary citizens to seek justice through one man who is probably overwhelmed with so much. Why should I rely on a regular Nigerian to help me when we have institutions that aren’t doing their jobs? It’s unfair. I’ve been here since having people look at me with pity, and I don’t want that. I just want justice.



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