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Protesters storm DSS Hq, want Sowore, Bakare freed

Journalist injured as DSS disperse protesters demanding Sowore’s release
We were offered N1m to suspend protest — Deji Adeyanju
SERAP accuses securitymen of using lethal weapons on peaceful protesters

By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Luminous Jannamike

Sowore, Malami, court
Sowore

A group of protesters, yesterday, stormed the headquarters of the Department of State Services, DSS, over  continued detention of the convener of the #RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore, and his deputy, Olawale Bakare.

The protest came against the backdrop of alleged claims by the DSS not to release the duo, despite meeting bail conditions for their release.

A Federal High Court sitting in  Abuja had ordered the release of Sowore and Bakare, but the DSS hinged its refusal to release them on the fact that it was yet to receive the order as at Friday, November 8.

READ ALSO:Revolution protest: DSS seeks court order to detain Sowore for 90 days(Opens in a new browser tab)

Public Relations Officer of the service, Dr Peter Afunanya, however, confirmed later that the agency had been served the bail order, but were yet to release the accused persons because nobody turned up to receive them.

Frustrated with the process, after nearly a week of the court order, supporters of the activists yesterday stormed the DSS office over the continued detention.

Bearing placards with inscriptions such as ‘’DSS obey court order’’, ‘’Release Sowore mandate now’’, and ‘’Nigerians want better living conditions, among others, the protesters chanted solidarity songs, laced with demands asking the security agency to release the activists without further delay.

READ ALSO:DEVELOPING: We’re here for Sowore, Deji Adeyanju, others arrive DSS office(Opens in a new browser tab)

Led by rights activist, Deji Adeyanju, the protesters were, however, forced to abandon their demonstration when a truckload of DSS operatives arrived the scene.

Adeyanju was addressing reporters when a security personnel shot in the air, while another used pepper spray to force the demonstrators to scamper in different directions, leaving behind their placards, shoes, and other personal effects.

In the ensuing confusion, a journalist with The Guardian, Oludare Richards, was allegedly assaulted by operatives of the agency, and he sustained a head wound and several bruises on his arm.

Speaking with  Vanguard  on his experience, Richard said: “When the pepper was sprayed, a popular female activist was finding it difficult to move because she couldn’t see properly.

“Security operatives were beating her. I intervened to help her but was hit on the head severally by three DSS officials. I have been to the hospital but I am suffering migraine and in severe pains.”

Meanwhile, before the abrupt dispersal of the protesters, Deji Adeyanju alleged that his group and other protesters were offered the sum of N1 million by some persons close to the government to suspend their agitation.

Displaying the cash, the activist claimed the money was offered to them at gunpoint.

He, however, did not disclose the identity of the persons who offered them the N1m but insisted that the money would be handed over to Sowore’s legal team to defray his legal expenses, if those who made the offer failed to take back their money by midnight.

He said: “We were offered N1 million at gunpoint with a promise for more, if we do not hold this rally. Those who gave us this money know themselves, we also know those who gave us the money.

“We will not compromise if those who gave us the money don’t come and collect it back today (yesterday). We will give it to Femi Falana, SAN, to defray Sowore’s legal costs.”

Sowore is in the custody of the DSS on charges of treasonable felony and other sundry offences.

SERAP reacts

Reacting to the development yesterday, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, accused security agents of  violent attacks on peaceful protesters demanding the release of Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare as ordered by the court.

SERAP, while  condemning the act, maintained that it violated the very core of Nigeria’s constitution and international human rights obligations.

In a statement by Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP said: “We have seen a video footage apparently showing the use of lethal and excessive force by Nigerian security agents against peaceful protesters demanding the release of Sowore and Bakare as ordered by the court.

“We condemn the ruthless violence and shocking abuses against protesters. It is time to ramp up monitoring the situation in Nigeria and to send investigators to the country at once.

“The use of lethal and excessive force violates the very core of Nigeria’s constitution and international human rights obligations. This should end immediately, and those responsible should be held to account.

“Nigerian authorities should immediately obey all court orders and specifically the court order for the release of Sowore and Bakare from arbitrary detention.”

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