…Activists ask FG to release Sowore, others
By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Monsuru Olowoopejo
LAGOS — ATTEMPTS by armed Policemen of the Lagos State Command to stop the planned symposium being convened by Coalition for Revolution, CORE, yesterday, was aborted following the intervention of the Human Rights Lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, who drew the attention of the security agency to the citizens’ constitutional right to peaceful assemblage.
However, that was after three persons were arrested and detained by the police over alleged “unlawful gathering.”
CORE, a human rights group, had organised a working consultative assembly of activists at a symposium to drum-up support against what it called the “draconian development and the detention of scores of activists in the Department of State Service, DSS, cells.”
The symposium tagged: “Democracy, State Repression and the State of insecurity in Nigeria,” was initially stalled when armed policemen sealed up number 46 Ibijoke Street, Oluyole Bus Stop, Oregun, Ikeja, venue of the event.
The police stormed the venue at about 7am and prevented guests and media men from gaining entrance into the venue.
The situation was later restored when Falana got to the venue around 12 30, pm and cautioned the police against stopping the citizens from the peaceful assembly as enshrined in the constitution of Nigeria.
Falana engaged the leader of the police team, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Sadiq Yusuf, on the rationale to stop the guests and participants from holding a peaceful meeting.
However, after clarification from higher authorities and assurance from Falana to ensure and maintain law and order without any recourse to violence, the police boss, ordered the barricade dismantled and movement allowed into the venue under the strict supervision of the police.
Those in attendance include Representatives of Labour unions and other human rights groups.
Falana stops police from stopping symposium
In his address, Falana said: “I will like to commend everyone for standing and demanding that our right must be maintained. We will ensure that all the rights of every Nigerian that we fought for will not be allowed to be eroded by any regime.
“When we were told that we will not be allowed to meet, my mind went back 30 years ago. We fought and defeated dictatorship in this country and we will continue to defeat the same.
“Any other dictator will not be allowed to raise his head again in Nigeria. I heard that about three persons have been arrested. But I will demand their release because they have not done anything against the law.
“I want to assure you that all those that were arrested during the Revolution now will be given adequate legal backing.
“President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration knows those that were causing the unrest in Nigeria. Those that are protesting have committed no offence including Omoyele Sowore.
“Even, under the colonial regime, Nigerians fought for the freedom and rights of their people.
“I remember that under the colonial administration, lectures were delivered on the need for revolution. They were not arrested for treasonable felony but on sedition. That experience mobilised Nigerians against the colonial administration.
“The call for revolution is not new in Nigeria. Political leaders have over time called for revolution and they have never been arrested by the military or any law enforcement agencies in the country.
“We are happy that we won the battle against us not to converge.
“Revolution is a consistent battle. And what you have all done is a mere declaration of belief. I believe that we have started and there is no going back on the need for a revolution in the country. We do not have a revolution yet in Nigeria.
“We must seize the advantage of the moment and mobilise Nigerians on the need for revolution and save Nigeria.
“Nigeria occupies a prominent place globally. If we fail to get it right in Nigeria, the black race is doomed. We all must declare our resolve to double our energy towards achieving the aim of revolution for the country. I, hereby, call for the immediate release of Sowore and others still being held unlawfully in detention across the states.”
There is no offence protesting — Femi Aborisade
Also, human rights activist, Aborisade, said: “There is no offence protesting in the country. The constitution permits anyone to revolt against any policy of governments that they found repressive and affecting them negatively.
“The failure of the government to provide employment violates the dictates of the constitution.
“President Buhari is criminalizing the rights of the people. If they say that I am a terrorist for asking for free medical care for the masses, free education for all, I will like to be prosecuted.
“I demand that Sowore and others should be released by the Federal Government. Many soldiers are currently in detention across the country.
“Nigeria has been turned to prison. We will ensure that the citizens enjoy the tenets of democracy. The law is taller than the president. I reject to live in any society that is governed by the whims and caprices of the president and not by the constitution. We reject enslavement and freedom to all that right in the country.”
Also, another rights activist, Mr. Martins Onovo, said: “I am not satisfied with the current state of the country now. The country has the worst police globally. We understand how herdsmen have become the greatest threat overtaking Boko Haram.
“The government has failed and the leader of the government must resign.
“There is no democracy in Nigeria. Anyone that still believes that Nigeria is in a democracy is deceiving himself or herself.”
Release Sowore, other political detainees — Seun Akikulapo-Kuti
Son of the Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Seun, who spoke in pidgin English, said: “No one in Nigeria is law-abiding.”
He said: “What we are doing is the collective interest of the general public and the generation yet unborn. We all need to wake up the citizens, conscientise them to understand their rights.’
“Until the people of Nigeria are ready to save themselves, no one will save them. We all have the right to peaceful protest
“We demand the immediate release of Sowore and other political detainees across the states.”