By Taiwo Fatola
Police brutality and other forms of social injustice provoked the October 2020 #EndSARS protest across Nigeria. Earlier that year, an Ibadan-based businessman, Kehinde Omotosho had died in police detention at the Oyo State Criminal Investigation Department, Iyaganku, Ibadan, after he was arrested in place of his nephew identified as Kabir.
The brother of the deceased, Rasak Jelili, together with whom he was arrested would later report the incident on a mobile application by Akin Fadeyi Foundation, AFF Flagit. Through the app, a petition was raised to the former Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Adamu.
Social injustice is generally high in Nigeria, ranging from gender-based violence, brutality and extortion by uniformed men, examination malpractices, cyberbullying to electoral malpractices and so on. According to a study, Nigeria currently measures 158 out of 190 countries in terms of social justice with a score of 0.534.
AFF Flagit, a mobile application which provides a harmonized platform for reporting social injustice in Nigeria was initially launched in 2019, before it was relaunched in January 2023 to accommodate the collaboration with relevant government agencies in the country.
“The application is one that stands for social justice and also works with private organizations and public ones as well to reduce the rate of corruption using behavioral change.” Jerry Mataimaki, the programme officer of Akin Fadeyi Foundation said while describing the app.
He also explains that the inspiration behind the app is to bridge the gap that prevents victims from reporting abuses they suffer or corruption cases around them. “We also want to seek justice for victims of social injustice as the processes are sometimes slow and ineffective for victims to get justice.” Mataimaki added.
Kabir Oyewole, a voter in Osogbo Local Government area of Osun State narrated how he reported a case of voter intimidation and vote trading he witnessed at his polling unit during the Nigeria’s 2023 General Election. According to him, he came across the application on Twitter before the election and it was said that it could be used to report electoral malpractices among other vices.
“After hearing about it on Twitter and what it can be used for, I installed it and signed up. I eagerly waited for the election. I was certain I would find something to report, so when I noticed vote buying, I made sure I reported it using the app. Navigation through the app was quite easy and direct.” Oyewole stated while explaining how he used the app.
HOW THE APP WORKS
The mobile application provides a harmonized platform on which multiple cases can be lodged to different government agencies. Users are required to sign up on the app before they can use it. Users then proceed to make their report by providing necessary information concerning the issue to be reported.
Akin Fadeyi Foundation is currently in partnership with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Person (NAPTIP), Federal Road Safety Commission and the Nigerian Police Force. The three law enforcement agencies are on the homepage of the app and a user can select any of them depending on the nature of the report, while “other” can be used to report issues that are not related to the agencies.
Homepage of AFF Flagit
A user is required to provide the date, time, location and description and even the identity of offenders (if available). The application allows users to indicate whether they are victims or witnesses of issues they are reporting. The application also gives the user the option of hiding their identity while making their reports.
“When you see a corrupt act and you can’t walk into the Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) or the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) office to report it, you just use the application to report it and your report is being transferred straight to the agency you are reporting to and they receive it in real time.” Mataimaki said while describing how the application works.
He explained further that the application also serves as an advocacy tool to amplify cases of corruption and track them. “With the app, you can track the number of cases that have been sent to an organization and how many have been prosecuted.” He stated.
He explained further that the platform was also used to report electoral malpractices and violence cases during the just concluded general election though the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is not a partner. “What we do in that kind of situation is that users use the ‘OTHER’ option to report cases to agencies that are not on the app and we escalate it to them appropriately.” He concluded.
The application allows users to submit at least a picture, video or audio evidence to support and validate their reports. When issues are reported on the app, the reports go directly to the government agencies and are prosecuted by them, however Akin Fadeyi Foundation provides pro bono legal services to indigent people who need legal representation and cannot afford it.
SUCCESS RECORDED BY THE APP
The Akin Fadeyi Foundation was able to bust a criminal syndicate that specializes in blackmailing and extortion of female students of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti with their nudes. The Founder and Executive Director of the Foundation, Mr. Akin Fadeyi narrated how the organization uncovered the gang’s activities through a report received through AFF Flagit application at a press conference.
“We received a report on the app that some male students of ABUAD have been extorting their female colleagues using their nudes to blackmail them. We swung into action by investigating the case and we identified the culprits and they were duly charged to court and prosecuted.” Mataimaki stated while commenting on the successes that have been achieved by the app.
In 2022, the Federal Road Safety Commission also awarded the Road Safety Pillar Award to Akin Fadeyi Foundation due to the impact of AFF Flagit in ensuring traffic safety through reports received from the app.
NO INTERVENTION IS ABSOLUTELY EFFECTIVE
When asked if there are provisions for rural dwellers who may not have access to the internet to use the app being an online information technology tool and people who cannot operate smartphones to also benefit from the intervention of the foundation, Mataimaki admitted that there is no provision for people in that category.
“Just like I said earlier, it’s work in progress, we upgraded the app earlier this year to accommodate our partner agencies. For now, there are no provisions for people in that category but with time we hope to accommodate them.” He said.
He also added that another challenge facing the operation of the app is getting government agencies to partner and adopt the application as a tool to fight social injustice and demand accountability.
Anthony Adejuwon, the Team Lead of Urban Alert, an Osun State-based Civil Society Organisation in a chat with Social Voices said mobile application and technology generally has a lot to offer when it comes to good governance, human rights, justice administration, and social development in general.
“Because of the advent of technology and how technology has impacted our social lives. Developing social applications and other technological platforms will help to ensure that citizens get connected with the government and also ensure that quality of service is upheld. And as a matter of fact, social justice, technology like mobile app development will help citizens get connected to the agencies of government, organization, and non-governmental organizations that have the capacity to help secure justice for citizens.” Adejuwon stated.
He added that social injustice in Nigeria is like a proverbial onion where you see a new layer as you are removing one. He added that his organization has leverage on technology to to amplify the voice of the people.
“We feel that the issue of social injustice is connected with two things; lack of government willingness to serve justice and be seen to have served justice in issues that has to do with the common man and also citizens’ inability to get connected with the right agency of the government or organization that will help them seek justice.” He concluded.
This story was produced in partnership with Nigeria Health Watch through the Solutions Journalism Network, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to rigorous and compelling reporting about responses to social problems.
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