Civic activists require the prosecutors to release wrongfully accused student

"Self-Defence is No Offence!" - With such slogans civic activists in Lugansk, Kiev and Simferopol demanded from the Prosecutor’s Office clear reinvestigation of the criminal case of Olaolu Sunkanmi Femi, Nigerian student who had dared to defend his and his friend’s lives from the racists attackers.


In Luhansk the youth brought to prosecutor a large poster with appeal to look into the situation and restore the rights for Olaolu Femi. Also it requires official punishment to officers who are involved in procedural infraction. In this way activists expressed hope that their opinion will be eventually noticed. But the first who noticed it was the police, tearing down the poster with the appeal  and signatures, rumpling and then throwing it out. In such a way the police in fact expressed general attitude of the state to public opinion. Sabir Abashidze, the Head of public prosecutor’s department in Luhansk region, explained official stand: there have not been found any evidences of racial attacks and there have not been discovered any procedural violations from the police.


There was a gathering place in Kiev for concerned people near the Prosecutor General's Office. Previously it had been reported that the Prosecutor General with the Ombudsman had taken the case of Olaolu under the personal control. But it did not change anything. So about thirty activists in front of the Prosecutor General's Office held banner in two languages, requiring justice for the prisoner. Picketing was accompanied by speeches of members from various initiatives, including a representative of the Nigerian community in Kyiv. They read an appeal to the Prosecutor General, in which the protesters demanded a clear investigation of circumstances of Olaolu Sunkami Femi’s arrest, releasing him from custody before an objective court, and bringing to justice those who are involved into irregularities during the investigation of the case. Appeal was taken from the representative of Application Acceptance Department, who promised that applicants would get response shortly. The protest was covered by journalists.
In Simferopol about 50 students gathered near the Crimean Medical University to support Nigerian student. They unfolded a banner with a call to support Olaolu Femi and emphasized the fact that students from other regions were also monitoring the progress of the case and could not be indifferent. Crimean students have already collected 100 signatures under the petition about painstaking criminal investigation addressed to Viktor Pshonka, the General Prosecutor of Ukraine.


Immediately after the action Luhansk activists marched to the judicial session in the case of Olaolu. There were representatives of Nigerian Consulate and the Nigerian Diaspora in Ukraine. About 30 people could take seats in the room and it was a half of interested journalists and concerned citizens. The rest was left behind closed doors.  Despite the fact that Femi had already been 10 months in prison, it was only the second meeting of the Board of Judges. One of the main reasons of the slow progress of the case is a failure to provide professional English interpreter in time, which made the trial impossible.


And the translator that had been found at last, once again impressed everyone with low professional level. Translation was not only illiterate, but sometimes opposite in meaning to original text. That’s why it was difficult for defendant to understand what is being talked about. The indictment was read. Olaolu noted that the English version, which was given to him for review before the meeting, was full of grammatical and substantive errors and was extremely difficult to understand. Eventually, the accused didn't get the chance to be interrogated by the court due to the fact that the interpreter has left the court. The interpreter explained her leaving by an urgent need to visit a hospital. All the four victims seemed to be confused. They refused to communicate with the press without explaining such behaviour, tried hiding faces from cameras, answered rudely and aggressively and didn’t give comments.


The next judicial hearing will take place on September 12 at 14:30.


We should remind that Olaolu Femi was accused under articles 115 Part 2 and 296 Part 4 of Criminal Code of Ukraine of attempted murder with hooligan motive. According to investigators, he consciously "with motive of obvious disrespect to society" committed assault with instrument of crime which he prepared in advance - broken glass bottle. This motive for Nigerian student’s night attack was chosen as the most explicable for accusation.
All the injuries sustained to attackers were recognized as "minor injuries". So, the nature of injuries doesn’t vouch for prepared assault. Inspite of this, Femi’s acts are qualified as "completed" attempted murder. Now Olaolu is threatened with danger of life imprisonment.


Femi and his friend Eniola Sudadi remember that it was on the night of November 5, 2011 in the entrance of high-rise building, where another Nigerian student rented an apartment. Six young people committed an assault with racist motive. The attackers being alcohol intoxicated first offended Nigerians and then knocked them down and began beating. Eniola could not have risen from the earth and Femi in order to defend himself struck attackers with a neck of the broken glass bottle. As a result, three attackers, Vitaly Haman, Dmitry Lemenchuk and Artem Loboda got cutting wounds to their hands, neck and head. Irina Pashkova, who also took part in the incident, was hit on the face and head. Olaolu Femi was arrested the next day and placed under court custody to Lugansk pre-trial prison where has been staying until now.


According to human rights activists, there were a number of gross violations during investigation. Investigations were carried out in the absence of a qualified interpreter in spite the fact that Olaolu Femi didn’t speak either Ukrainian or Russian. In the process of preliminary investigation Femi did not receive the translated legal documents of the case. He was able to read  materials in English only after their transfer to the court.


Representatives of public organizations and defenders of Olaolu Femi call attention to prejudiced attitude and numerous violations while investigating: absence of qualified interpretator, disregard evidences in favor of Olaolu Femi, etc. There is reason to presume that there is conspiracy between attackers’ relatives and representatives of investigating agency that caused intended falsification.


Indignant at police arbitrariness civic activists promise to continue observing development of the situation, attracting media and government’s attention in order to release a real victim from custody and punish criminals.



Self-Defence is No Offence


Initiative "Justice for Olaolu"



“Justice for Olaolu” Initiative is an association of non-governmental organisations and individuals, concerned with criminal prosecution of Olaolu Sunkanmi Femi, which appears to be biased and fabricated. Initiative was launched in order to gather and distribute information regarding his case, to defend Olaolu's right to access to justice, and to restore justice in his case.


“Justice for Olaolu” contacts: Tel.: +380 50 3348780 (Maksym) (Eng., Ukr., Rus.), +380 50 8106649 (Julia) (Ukr., Rus..). E-mail:;