Launched on October 20, 2023, coinciding with the third anniversary of the #EndSARS protest, the JAPOV project has set its sights on addressing the deeply rooted problems of human rights violations and police brutality in Nigeria.
JAPOV is composed of various civil society organizations, legal groups, and community associations, all working together to unify the community through policy advocacy, strategic litigation, and community empowerment. These efforts are directed at confronting police violence and unjust incarceration.
Oluyemi Orija, the founder of Headfort Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on provision of free and easy access to Justice to indigent and wrongly incarcerated inmates, while delivering an opening speech, emphasized that JAPOV’s mission extends beyond safeguarding the public from police brutality and harassment, but that it also aims to hold law enforcement officers accountable for their extrajudicial actions concerning Nigerian citizens.
Orija explained that the initiative’s objective is to eliminate the fear of police brutality and wrongful imprisonment for all Nigerians, thereby fostering a secure and just society.
She stated, “This is a systemic issue that begins with the police and extends to the legal system. Without consequences for police actions, injustices will persist. That’s why we are focusing on strategic litigation to take on cases involving police misconduct.”
“When we identify cases of injustice, such as false arrests, arbitrary or malicious prosecutions, or unlawful detentions, we will pursue them, which will further our policy advocacy efforts,” she added.
Orija emphasized that JAPOV will also advocate for policies to remove legal barriers that shield the police from accountability, especially when found guilty and ordered to compensate the victims of injustice.
Furthermore, she pointed out that the struggle encompasses not only the police but also the legal system. JAPOV will initiate strategic projects to alleviate prison overcrowding.
At the core of their efforts lies the JAPOV Fund, a dedicated resource pool specifically earmarked for addressing issues related to police violence, human rights violations, and prison reforms. This fund will be utilized to secure the release of Nigerians detained across the nation and provide support to organizations and projects dedicated to upholding human rights, especially in the realm of police violence and wrongful incarceration.
“We will use the funds to compensate victims of police brutality and encourage them to take legal action against the police. We understand the consequences of police brutality and violence, and a portion of the fund will go toward compensating victims,” Orija stated.
The JAPOV campaign is a collaborative effort involving the Headfort Foundation, Hope Behind Bars, Connect Hub NG, Pro Bono Foundation, and Citizen Gavel.