Molly Kilete, Fred Ezeh, Abuja, Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
Security agents reportedly arrested and forcefully dispersed #RevolutionNow protesters with teargas across the country, yesterday.
Among those arrested were Olawale Bakare and scores of others in Osogbo, Osun State, Abuja and Lagos.
This is as commercial and social activities were grounded in Ore, Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State as protesters prevented vehicular movement on the popular Benin-Ore express road.
Protesters’ first attempt on August 5, 2019, was smarshed by security operatives leading to the arrest of Omoyele Sowore, Bakare and others.
A year after, protesters, armed with placards with various inscriptions, again stormedthe streets and called on Nigerians to join in the struggle for an improved and better society.
In the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the police swooped on members of the #RevolutionNow group who gathered at the popular Unity Fountain at Maitama district.
Daily Sun gathered that 20 protesters who were arrested and taken to a mobile court were released following the absence of a magistrate to try them.
It was also gathered that before setting them free, the protesters were warned not to embark on such mission in the FCT, especially at this time when the COVID-19 pandemic was ravaging the whole world.
Public Relations Officer in charge of the command, Anjuguri Mamza, said: “There was no arrest on the protest. The arrest was actually based on violation of the COVID-19 protocol. We were even supposed to arraign them in court, but the court did not sit. The mobile court did not sit. So what happened was that they were warned and released. But basically they were arrested because they violated the COVID-19 protocols.
“Arrest was not protest driven it was based on the COVID-19 protocol and about 21 persons were all warned and released to go home,”he said.
In Lagos, convener of RevolutionNow movement and publisher of Sahara reporter, Omoyele Sowore, escaped arrest after the state Police Command arrested 19 other revolution fighters protesting alleged repression and insecurity across the country.Among those arrested was Agba Jalingo.
It was learnt that the arrest of the protesters was effected by a joint team of police from the state’s command on learning of the group’s plan
The arrested protesters also refused to write statements as directed by police and said they were prepared to be jailed if need be.
Meanwhile, Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) and the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) have condemned the attacks on a peaceful #RevolutionNow protests across the country, insisting that, being a democratic state, citizens were afforded the constitutional right to engage in peaceful protests to register their grievances.
CUPP National Secretary, Peter Ameh, in a statement asked the global community to hold the Police and other security agencies accountable for the incessant violence and infringement of the rights of the masses.
“Nigeria has since been liberated from the deadly claws of military regime and extra judicial killings long ago and that should reflect in our freedom to register our displeasure in the affairs of the nation through peaceful protest,” said Ameh.
He called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to ensure that the blazing light of democracy handed over to him by the same electorate is not used as a furnace in roasting their lives.
“If only the brutal actions of security agents in crushing the peaceful protesters can be urgently applied in Southern Kaduna and North East that are under heavy bandits and terrorists attacks, the perennial, elongated and worsening security situation in these areas would be solved.”
In its reaction, SERAP said the government of President Buhari must end the use of excessive force against protesters, and allow people to peacefully exercise their human rights.”
SERAP in a statement by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, said: “By failing to adequately protect protesters from violent attacks, Nigerian authorities have blatantly violated their obligations under the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.”
“Nobody should be arrested or subjected to torture and ill-treatment simply for taking part in peaceful protests. The authorities should stop criminalising peaceful protesters.
“Rather than suppressing peaceful protests, the authorities ought to protect peaceful protesters and ensure a safe and enabling environment for people to exercise their constitutionally and internationally guaranteed rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”