Security agencies, yesterday, made good their threat to foil the planned nationwide protest tagged: RevolutionNow, organised by Global Coalition for Security and Democracy in Nigeria.
Reports from across the country revealed heavy deployment of security operatives. Heavily armed and drawn from all security outfits including anti-riot and civil defence officers, the military, National Civil security and Civil Defence Commission (NSCDC) and Department of State Security (DSS), were visible in all public arenas including stadia, apparently to foil any “illegal” gathering.
In Lagos, at least, nine persons were arrested at the National Stadium in Lagos after a crowd gathered for the #RevolutionNow, a series of planned protests against bad governance in Nigeria.
As early as 8 a.m., the protesters began to assemble at the stadium in Surulere but met armed police officers who fired teargas to force the protesters numbering about 50 into a hasty retreat. They later took gathered under the stadium bridge were they chanted song.
Security agents, including the police and army were also stationed at the nearby Teslim Balogun, Surulere, the National Theatre, Iganmu and Gani Fawehinmi Park on Ikorodu road, Ojota.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operations), Mr. Mohammed Ali, said the protesters did not obtain permission for the protest.
Lagos State police spokesman, Balla Elkana, confirmed the arrest of nine protesters at the stadium but said there was no casualty.
“There was rumours making the round that one person was shot. Nobody was shot. The photograph that is viral of a man with gunshot injury is a lie. The photograph we are seeing is not gunshot. The photograph is that of wound but not gunshot.”
Activists defy downpour, protest in Abuja
Activists defied downpour in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, as they converged on the office of the National Human Rights Commission, Maitama, to protest against the poor security situation and other social vices in the country.
The protesters chanted “Freedom comes by struggle by struggle” and demanded the release of Omoyele Sowore, one oc the conveners of the protest, who was arrested bty the DSS on Saturday.
The protesters had planned to hold rally at the popular Unity Fountain, but changed their plans following heavy security presence at the park.
At the office of the NHRC, they delivered a letter in which they expressed displeasure over the continued silence of the Commission to the undemocratic incidences in the country.
Coordinator of the group, Dare-Atoye Ariyo condemned the government for tagging the protest a violent one.
“We have intelligence that some compromised Nigerians have been paid to attack us during this protest so that it will be labelled a confrontation. We are peaceful people. This is a revolution against corrupt ruling elites,” he said.
Ariyo said the arrest and detention of Sowore was undemocratic and disgraceful.
Aside the protest at the NHRC, the FCT did not witness any protest. Police Public Relations Officer said no arrest was made.
Security foils protest in Oyo, Osun
In Ibadan, a combined team of security operatives took over the main entrance of the University of Ibadan to preempt the protest.
The officers from the police, State Security Service, Nigerian Army, NSCDC and Oyo State combined security team codenamed “Operation Burst” had, as early as 6:30 a.m., taken over the gate in anticipation of the protest march.
However, security agents did not prevent movement despite their heavy presence.
Police spokesperson in the state, Olugbenga Fadeyi said in a statement that the police would not fold their arms and allow any group to cause anarchy in the state.
It was gathered that some arrests were made, but the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Olugbenga Fadeyi, could not confirm it at the time of filing this report, saying he would find out the number of persons arrested in connection with the protest and get back to the reporter.
In Osun, protesters led by Olawale Adebayo, had arrived the popular Olaiya Junction, Osogbo, to address newsmen on reason for the protest. The protesters who had mobilised no fewer than 30 persons were halted by the DSS and police personnel.
The operatives asked the protesters to disperse but were rebuffed by a group of youths numbering no fewer than 30 and decked in orange berets and handkerchiefs. The youths stood their ground and sang protest songs.
The security team threw tear gas at the crowd which eventually dispersed them.
Earlier, Adebayo had addressed newsmen in Fagbewesa area of Osogbo on their demands from government after which they intended to take the protest to the streets.
An elderly woman, Sariyu Akanmu was brutalised by armed policemen while five members of “RevolutionNow” group were arrested by the police and DSS operatives, who also used teargas to disperse the protesters.
Security at alert in Rivers
Security was beefed up at strategic places in Port Harcourt and its environs, in Rivers State, to forestall breakdown of law and order.
Though, there was downpour in Port Harcourt, security operatives took over the popular Isaac Boro Park, the muster point for the protesters.
Pockets of persons suspected to be protesters were dispersed by policemen at their take off point.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, had earlier warned that nobody should attempt the ‘Revolution Now’ protest in the state.
Police disrupts athletes’ training in Kwara
To forestall breakdown of law and order in Ilorin, Kwara State, armed police operatives stormed the state’s stadium complex to disperse athletes on training.
Sporting activities at the stadium complex, located in the metropolis, were disrupted as athletes, who had arrived at the stadium for training, were turned back.
Police were ordered to block the stadium gate followiong speculation that the facility had been picked as meeting point for the protest match.
Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Ajayi Okasanmi said the presence of policemen at the stadium was to prevent chaos.
Delta, Ondo shun protest
Protest did not hold in any part of Delta State, as residents in Asaba and its environs went about their normal duties unhindered.
Although the presence of security operatives was scanty, Commissioner of Police, Adeyinka Adeleke, said the command was ready to forestall any breakdown of law and order.
South South chairman of the Civil Liberties Organisations (CLO), Mr. Chinedu Uchegu said CLO was not consulted, hence could not mobilise to be part of it.
He, however, agreed that the protest was necessary given the state of insecurity and other issues affecting the nation, and condemned the arrest and detention of Sowore and called for his immediate release.
Business and social activities went undisrupted all through the day in Ondo State, which incidentally is the state of Sowore, convener of the exercise.
Security agencies deployed to strategic areas of the Akure metropolis in anticipation of the protest which eventually did not hold in any part of the state.
At the M.K.O Abiola Democracy Park, close to the main market, Oja Oba, in the heart of the metropolis, men of NSCDC and police in plain cloth were sighted on the road leading to the park, Mobil Roundabout, Alagbaka, Shoprite, Oda Road, NEPA Roundabout, Isikan Roundabout and Oke Aro
Besides, several police vans were sighted patrolling major streets in Akure, while people went about their businesses undisturbed.
Spokesman of the state Police Command, Femi Joseph said the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Undie Adie had ordered police officers across the state to be on alert.
Kaduna streets half empty
Most streets and popular places in Kaduna metropolis were half empty as residents deserted such areas.
The tensed situation in Kaduna city was compounded by the trial of the embattled leader of Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, who was brought to court amidst tight security.
Our Correspondents who visited major streets of Ahmadu Bello Way, Abeokuta Street, Yakubu Gowon Way, Muhammadu Buhari Way, Junction Road, Ibrahim Taiwo road, amongst others, noted that some shops and offices were not opened.
The ever busy post office area of Yakubu Gowon Way, where hawkers of various items used to converge was deserted.
There was heavy presence of combined security operatives across the city.
Security beef up in Edo
Police and DSS laid siege to the premises of the Bendel Newspapers Company Limited (BNCL), publishers of the Nigerian Observer, to prevent civil society members from embarking on the planned nationwide protest.
Civil society members were assembling in front of the media house in readiness for take off when the security agencies arrived to disperse them.
The security agencies also besieged the secretariat of the Edo State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
The security personnel positioned their vehicles at strategic entrance to the Nigerian Observer and its adjoining streets like the vegetable market road and the Observer lane.
The security officers stormed the Nigerian Observer premises with four Hilux patrol vans and NUJ secretariat with three.
However, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Chidi Nwabuzor, denied claim that the presence of the security operatives were for the protest march.
Chidi said it was to forestall attacks on the media house.
No protest in Ebonyi, Benue
All parts of Benue State is so far calm as there is no RevolutionNow protest taken place anywhere in the state.
However, the police and other security operatives were stationed in strategic areas across the state to prevent breakdown of law and order.
Our correspondent sighted heavily armed men of the police force around the Police headquarters roundabouts leading to the DSS office, the CBN and all through to the Government House in Makurdi.
The PPRO, DSP Catherine Anene said the command had taken a proactive measure to forestall breakdown of law and order in the state.
“Let’s just say that we are being proactive at this time and we have deployed our men to ensure there no breakdown of law and order. So far, there is no report of any such protest taken place in Benue,” Anene stated.
In Ebonyi, residents of Abakaliki, the capital of the state, went about their normal businesses. Some of them who spoke to Daily Sun said that they did not see sufficient reason to embark on protests as such would not solve the nation’s multiple problems.
Nkechi Oginyi said that the challenges confronting the country needs dialogue as against the option of protests.
“Protests cannot solve our problems. We need to sit down and discuss our challenges. We need dialogue, not protests. Leaders of the country should dialogue on the best way to move the country forward”, said Oginyi.