By Clifford Ndujihe, Olasunkanmi Akoni, Ben Agande, Ola Ajayi, Chris Ochayi, Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Dirisu Yakubu, Luminous Jannamike, Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu, Ugochukwu Alaribe, Ike Uchechukwu & Shina Abubakar
•Police brutalise 70-year old woman, as exercise turns violent in Osun
•One shot, Police arrest 12, including journalists
•Pro-govt protesters mobilise to disrupt protest
•Mailafia, 7 presidential candidates, others call for Sowore’s release
•Revolution has failed — Presidency
LAGOS — ANGRY youths and facilitators of the Revolution Now protest, yesterday, defied threats of security agencies to hold demonstrations in four states of the country and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
States where the Revolution protests took place were Lagos, Osun, Ondo and Cross River.
The protest was, however, foiled in Edo and Oyo states.
However, the Revolution protesters met combat-ready security operatives, who dispersed them as the demonstrations turned violent in Osun where a 70-year-old woman was brutalised.
In Lagos, a Revolution protester was shot, while nine other, including some journalists, were arrested by the police.
The police had vowed to treat the ‘RevolutionNow’ protesters as terrorists, even though the group’s demands border largely on acute security and economic crises afflicting the nation.
With the proposed nationwide demonstration held in only four states and Abuja, the Presidency, yesterday, taunted the convener of the protest, saying the attempt to incite citizens into a revolution against their own democratic rights and interests has failed.
The Presidency in a statement in Abuja, signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said the President Muhammadu Buhari and the government were humbled by the show of support by Nigerians not to participate in the alleged plot to remove a democratically elected government.
This happened on a day calls for the release of Mr. Omoyele Sowore, the 2019 presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, AAC, and facilitator of the demonstrations reached feverish peak.
Nine presidential candidates and aspirants in the last election, including Dr Obadiah Mailafia, yesterday called for the immediate release of Sowore, who was arrested by the Department of State Services, DSS, on Saturday and had been detained since then.
Police arrest Sahara Reporters’ journalists, place Lagos office under surveillance
The police arrested Victor Ogungbenro and Tosin Olajuwon, journalists with Sahara Reporters, published by Sowore and the Lagos office of the organisation is reportedly being monitored by security agents.
While Ogungbenro, a video editor, was arrested alongside some #RevolutionNow protesters in Lagos, Olajuwon was picked up at Ore in Ondo State.
Olajuwon, one of the reporters of Sahara Reporters in Ondo, was leading a team of protesters when the police swooped on them. In Lagos, the protesters had gathered at the National Stadium, Surulere, chanting #RevolutionNow and demanding the release of Sowore.
After they were dispersed with teargas and gunshots, Ogungbero, who was filming the protest, was picked and thrown into a stationed van.
“Yes, he is a reporter with Sowore’s Sahara Reporters and he is part of the protest,” Tijani Fatai, an assistant commissioner of police reportedly said when asked about the journalist’s arrest.
Why we fired teargas at Revolution protesters – Police
Tijani Fatai, an assistant commissioner of police, said members of #RevolutionNow movement were dispersed from the National Stadium, Lagos, because they did not seek permission from the police before gathering.
Addressing journalists after members of the movement were dispersed, Fatai justified the use of teargas in dislodging the protesters.
Asked why the police fired teargas at them, Fatai responded: “Because it is an unlawful assembly.”
Earlier, Fatai had also said they had an order from the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, to disperse the “unlawful gathering.”
Inibehe Effiong, AAC lawyer, confirmed that those arrested in Lagos were currently being detained at the police Area C command in Surulere, Lagos, adding that efforts were being made to secure their release.
Sahara reporters reported that a policeman was seen around the office in Ikeja, while a car was parked at its front and that inside the car were two DSS operatives.
How Revolution protest turned violent in Osun
As the Coalition for Revolution and Concerned Citizens embarked on the protest in Osogbo, Osun State, police officers descended on an elderly woman, named Sariyu Akanmu, and journalists at the scene.
The woman, who was hawking fufu, was joining the protesters when a female police officer descended her.
Some journalists monitoring the development were also harassed. Mr. Sunday Oguntuyi of Newsdirect newspaper was tear-gassed.
The security operatives had stopped the protesters from embarking on procession across the streets of Osogbo, restricting them to the correspondents’ chapel, where the protesters earlier addressed journalists.
However, as the protesters attempted to leave the scene to head back home, the DSS officer and DPO Ogunkanmi, who led the police team stopped them from moving.
The police were angry that some national dailies had reported the incident on the internet and were heard discussing that the protesters had to be moved from the area.
While some of the leaders of the protesters engaged the security operatives at the scene on the need to allow them to exercise their right to freedom of expression, others were having fun with occupants of shops around the scene. As some of the children at the scene picked up some of the banners used for the protests, the policemen at the scene descended on the protesters, claiming they were radicalising the children.
The protesters’ attempt to resist arrest further infuriated the police, who unleashed terror on them and arrested no fewer than 10 of themselves
The group had earlier demanded, among other things, the improvement in security of lives and property, quality education and the immediate release of Sowore.
Addressing journalists in the state capital, leader of the protesters, Olawale Adebayo, disclosed that the protest was imperative because of the state of the nation, especially security of lives and property in the country.
The protesters were not allowed to proceed beyond Olaiya junction as a team of DSS operatives arrived in two vehicles and insisted that they could not move beyond the correspondents’ chapel.
The DSS officer disclosed that the protesters must not proceed beyond the spot in the interest of public security.
As the argument was ongoing, three other vehicles loaded with police personnel arrived the scene and joined other security operatives in stopping the protesters from embarking on procession.
The DSS officer who appeared to be receiving instructions over the phone, as well as the leader of the police team told the protesters they could not go back home, when they (protester) attempted to go back home.
Nation Newspaper correspondent, others arrested in Calabar
Some persons, including the Cross River State correspondent of the Nation newspaper, Nicholas Kalu, were arrested at the Cultural Centre, Calabar, venue of the protest in the state.
Vanguard gathered that the News Editor, Jonathan Ugbal, as well as the Managing Editor, Jeremiah Archibong, of an online medium “CrossRiverwatch” were also arrested.
It is not clear the circumstances that led to the arrest of Mr Nicholas as he was at the venue to cover the protest.
Cross River State Chairman of the NUJ, Mr. Victor Udu, said Nicholas Kalu’s arrest was uncalled for and called for his immediate and unconditional release.
His words: “I condemn the act totally. The journalist is just doing his job. He did not go there with any weapon, he went there with his jotter and pen and nothing more, except with intentions to serve the public by disseminating balanced report to the public.
“We call for his immediate and unconditional release as he has committed no crime by carrying out his duty as a journalist.”
Contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Irene Ugbo, said she was not aware of the arrest but added that Kalu will be released if he was ever arrested.
“I don’t know the situation, I am not in the office but if at all he was arrested, he will be released, “ she said.
Efforts to reach Nicholas Kalu proved abortive .
Sowore’s group chides NHRC over silence, Pro-govt protesters mobilise in Abuja
In Abuja, there were pro and anti-government protests. Busloads of pro-government supporters were sighted at the Unity Fountain in Abuja, ready to counter the protests.
According to Premium Times, two busloads filled with apparent supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari parked at the Unity Fountain under the cover of the police. They later held a rally in support of President Buhari at the fountain.
Rather than street protest, members of the Sowore group stormed the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, where it berated the commission for its purported silence in the face of alleged human rights abuses by the government.
They cited the DSS’ arrest of Sowore as a case in point.
According to them, other recent developments in the country are also indicative of a departure from democratic practices.
Against that backdrop, they called on the commission to rise to its mandate of defending Nigeria’s civic space and the rights of citizens.
In a petition to the NHRC chairman signed and read on their behalf by Deji Adeyanju and Ariyo Atoye, members of the Sowore-led group under the banner of Concerned Revolutionary Activists, said: “We are even more displeased by your silence in the face of the alarming human rights abuses, considering the consistency of such anomaly under the present regime.
“The arrest of Sowore comes after a statement by the IGP of delimiting all actions of protest by citizens in Abuja to the Unity Fountain only, and additionally restricting the rights of citizens to demonstrate their remonstrances by criminalizing the Revolution Now protest.”
No ‘revolution now’ protest in Edo, police mount security in media houses
In Edo State, the protest did not hold just as a press conference called by a coalition of civil society group was called off, while one of their leaders was arrested by the police.
There was, however, heavy security presence in the premises of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, and the state owned newspaper, Bendel Newspaper Company Limited, publishers of the Nigerian Observer
But the police said their presence in these places was to stop any violence because there were intelligence reports that some media houses will be attacked.
The Commissioner of Police, Danmallam Muhammed, said: “The security presence is to give them protection, there is intelligence that some hooligans want to invade the places so we don’t want to take chances because if they attack the place, they will blame the police. Remember, last week, we heard information about jail break and attack on banks, we acted promptly. So, when we heard some thing like this, we will not just fold our arms, our responsibility is to protect lives and properties of all citizens so we are there for protection. We are friendly force not enemy forces.’
Security agents prevent protests in Ibadan
In Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo State, security agencies stormed the main entrance of the University of Ibadan to ensure the protest did not hold.
The security agencies included Nigerian Army, Policemen, Civil Defence Coprs and Oyo State security team tagged, Operation Burst. As early as 6:30am, they had taken over the main gate of the institution where the protest was expected to kick off.
As at 6pm yesterday, the security men were still seen keeping vigilance to ensure there was no breakdown of law and order. A man who tried to take their photographs was slapped by some mobile policemen.
Though, the security agents allowed free human and vehicular movements in and out of the institution, they were all armed with over 50 police vans lined up on both sides of the road that leads to the university campus.
There was no sign of protest within the institution as lecturers and students were seen in lecture rooms in various faculties of the institution. Some minutes before &pm, some of the police vans were moved from where they were stationed to Eleyele headquarters of the police command.
The security men did not grant any interview as they just looked blank when asked to be interviewed.
Ethnic youth leaders task Buhari on Sowore
A coalition of youth leaders from ethnic groups in Nigeria have called on President Buhari to order the release of Sowore who is being detained by the DSS over the protest.
The group called on the government to avoid clampdown on the opposition and pursue positive engagement and dialogue, stressing that the nation can no longer defer discussion on critical areas such as national security, peace, economic growth and political stability as well as development of Nigeria.
The group under the aegis of Nigerian Ethic Nationality Youth Leaders Forum, in a statement signed by its National Chairman, Alhaji Yerima Shettima; Secretary General; Aremo Oladotun Hassan; Deputy National Chairman, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, and Publicity Secretary, Barr. Pereotubo Oweilaemi; urged President Buhari and the 36 state governors to proffer short and long term solutions to the nation’s challenges.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to order the unconditional release of Omoyele Sowore, Convener, Revolution Now Movement, who was arrested by men of the DSS over the 5th August, 2019 mass protest revolution against the government. We believe his prompt release from detention will quell the rebellion about to explode. The Presidency should see the traps, and pursue positive engagement and dialogue, rather than opposition clampdown.’’
Sowore’s revolution, not a call to arms, says Fani-Kayode
In like manner, former Minister of Aviation and a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, condemned the arrest and detention of Sowore.
In a statement, the fiery critic said the revolution Sowore had in mind was not in any way a call to bear arms against the government.
“He has no arms, he has not threatened to conduct an armed struggle or engage in an armed insurrection or to kill anyone so this can only be a “revolution” in name and by words,” he wrote.
According to him, “every Nigerian has the legitimate and constitutional right to protest and demonstrate peacefully in a democracy. It is not an act of treason to march against the President and to protest about the insecurity in the country.”
The former Minister wondered why armed bandits killing and maiming innocent Nigerians have not been singled out and punished, if the President Buhari-led government is truly serious about the security situation in the land.
“They (killers) are filled with hate. They have arms, are racists, ethnic supremacists. They have publicly-stated murderous intent and have already killed many in the South, the Middle Belt and even in the North itself, yet you did not see fit to arrest even one of them or declare them as terrorists.”
Coalition of former presidential aspirants and candidates seek freedom for Sowore
Also, a coalition of 2019 presidential aspirants and candidates, yesterday wrote President Buhari, Senate President Ahmad Lawan and House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, condemning what they described as Sowore’s illegal arrests and called for his freedom.
The presidential aspirants and candidates are Dr. SKC Ogbonnia, (aspirant, All Progressives Congress APC); Hon. Tope Fasua, candidate, Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party ANRP); Hon. Okey Samuel Mbonu, aspirant, Labour Party, LP); Dr. Thomas-Wilson Ikhubese, aspirant, Alliance for New Nigeria, ANN); Dr. Emmanuel Etim, candidate, Change Nigeria Party, CNP); Dr. Ayodele O. Favour, aspirant, Young Progressives Party,YPP); and Hon. Clement Jimbo, aspirant, Social Democratic Party SDP).
Their joint letter read in part: ‘’We, the Coalition of former 2019 Presidential Aspirants and Candidates, under the aegis of Third Force Forum, hereby demand the unconditional release of one of our compatriots, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, who was arrested by an agency of the government on August 2, 2019, pursuant to plans for a protest march across Nigeria; which is within his full constitutional rights toward “Freedom of Expression”, pursuant to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
We must also remind you Mr. President, that in addition to the Nigerian Constitution, Nigeria also subscribes to other International Treaties, which prohibit violation of human rights of her citizens. To refrain from adhering to these national and international rights, is to invite anarchy onto the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
‘’As you are fully aware Mr. President, every democratic government that subscribes to the Rule of Law, has time-tested methods of containing any breach of the peace during peaceful protests; without clamping down on our fundamental rights of “Freedom of Expression” and to peaceably assemble, in-order to address grievances by the government; even when those views expressed are contrary to the views of the current government.
‘’Therefore, we implore you to immediately order the applicable agencies of the State to immediately release Mr. Omoyele Sowore unconditionally, in-order to maintain peace in our country, and to deter further national and international repercussions on this matter.
Thank you for your cooperation in this matter Mr. President, we look forward to a mutually respectful Nigeria for all Nigerians.’’
Release Sowore now, Mailafia tells DSS
The African Democratic Congress, ADC 2019 Presidential Candidate, Dr Mailafia, made similar calls and said that the Federal Government was fast losing legitimacy.
Dr. Mailafia, who condemned Sowore’s arrest, while making a presentation at a one-day ethnic nationalities conference organized by the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, in Abuja, reiterated that Mr. Sowore must be accorded his right to protest.
The former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, wondered why a citizen of a country should be arrested simply because he expresses his views on issues he heels affecting the country negatively.
Mailafia, who expressed concerns over the deteriorating state of the nation, especially the dwindling economy, the scope of insecurity and palpable fears enveloping the land, summed it up that “Nigeria is a failed nation.”
He said the federal government has lost its legitimacy for failing to provide safety of lives and property of Nigerians with the incessant killings of innocent souls across the country, especially, in the Middle Belt region by the suspected Fulani herdsmen.
Lamenting the poor state of Nigerian economy and its rating as headquarters of poverty in the world, Mailafia recalled that, “Nigeria had negative posture during the civil war in 1968 and the second time was in 2016.”
Mailafia, speaking further at the conference with theme, “Reawakening” noted that “The Federal Government must take urgent steps to work towards re-engineering the federation.”
Meanwhile, the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, has issued a stern warning to the Federal Government to bury the thought of reintroducing the Inland Water Way bill rejected by the 8th National Assembly.
President of MBF, Dr. Bitrus Poegu, who gave the warning in his welcome address, however, called on Nigerians to keep a close watch in order to nip the bill in bud should the government tries to reintroduce it and send to the 9th National Assembly.
Dr. Porgu said the bill which seeks to take away all rivers, their banks up to some kilometers from states control to the Federal Government is toxic and must be rejected.
RevolutionNow has failed – Presidency
Meanwhile, the Presidency yesterday in a statement in by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu said the protests had failed.
The statement read: “Today, millions of Nigerians went about their businesses: work, seeking employment, attending school/college and caring for their families. By doing so, the millions defended our country’s hard-won democratic rights – by ignoring calls on social media to join a phantom ‘revolution’.”
“There were a few hundred persons today who, for their own reasons, decided to act upon the demands of a group calling itself Global Coalition for Security and Democracy in Nigeria, which went on social media to ask everyday Nigerians to overthrow the government they only elected some six months ago.
“The President is humbled by the support – not for himself, or the governing party – but for the democratic values of modern-day Nigeria through the wisdom of those millions of citizens who preferred democracy and decided not to undermine an elected government.
“Today, joining those millions of Nigerians was not only the President and governing party at Federal level, but many state governments from the opposition, trade unions, civil society organisations, media and NGOs with focus on freedom of speech. All have, rightly, united in protecting Nigeria’s young democracy and the rights of all to elect leaders and lawmakers.
“The Global Coalition for Security and Democracy in Nigeria’s attempt to incite citizens into a revolution against their own democratic rights and interests has failed – as will all attempts to take away from the people their hard-won rights and freedom to choose who leads their country.”
Balarabe Musa condemns arrest of Sowore
Former chairman of the People’s Redemption Party, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, also condemned the arrest Sowore for leading RevolutionNow protest against bad governance in the country
In an interview with journalists in Kaduna, Musa said citizens in the country have constitutional rights to embark on legitimate protest where the federal government is failing in its responsibility of providing good governance.
“Government has no right to arrest Sowore for leading any protest or speaking out against Buhari’s government. His action is not treasonable. You cannot arrest any Nigerian who is protesting against the maladministration of Buhari’s government.
“The situation in the country is terrible. Nigerians have endured enough. There is need to protest the poor governance by Buhari. So, we have the fundamental rights to embark on protest. And the revolution people are calling in this country is not treasonable. So, those who are in government should know that Nigerians can no longer take this Insecurity and Plunging of the economy. The right thing must be done to salvage Nigeria.