By Olasunkanmi Akoni and Bose Adelaja
Armed policemen on Wednesday, prevented thousands of protesters, under the aegis of Coalition for Revolution CORE, from converging Wednesday, trooped out in their numbers, to stage a simultaneous nation-wide protest against what they described “as massive corruption, rising unemployment and worsening misery of the masses in Nigeria.”
The protests tagged, “Grand Corruption Mass Misery, ” was to mark the 1st anniversary of the #RevolutionNow Movement and “relaunch the campaign for an end to unabating looting of public resources and revamping of the social and economic fabric of our country.
Also, the group is demanding greater accountability in the management of public fund in order to engender a balanced and socially just development.
In Lagos, police as early as 7 am barricaded the venue, Ikeja Under Bridge, where the protesters were supposed to converge on and dispersed them before they could stage a protest match to Lagos House, Alausa, Ikeja.
As soon as the police sighted some of the protesters in an attempt to gather at the venue, they fired tear gas canisters to disperse the demonstrators.
The protesters, comprising of mainly the youths, displayed placards with various inscriptions, such as: “Put an end to insecurity and mass killings now, Stop destroying our homes, invest in social housing, No to increase in electricity tariffs, fraudulent bank deduction, Embezzlement and looting is affecting our nation, Is this how to fight corruption,?” Among others.
Following the discharged of gas canisters, the confused protesters scampered in different directions through the Computer Village through the market and adjoining streets.
At press time, it could not be confirmed if the police had made any arrest as there sighted running after some demonstrators.
Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has condemned the reported violent attacks on #Revolution Now protesters in Abuja, Osogbo, Lagos and other parts of the country.
In a statement by SERAP Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation stressed that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari must end the use of excessive force against protesters, and allow people to peacefully exercise their human rights.
The Department of State Services, DSS, had on Wednesday reportedly arrested Olawale Bakare and six other #RevolutionNow protesters wearing orange-coloured caps around Olaiya area of Osogbo, Osun State capital.
Several protesters were also arrested by the police and the Nigerian Army in the Abuja metropolis.
The statement read in part: “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.
“SERAP urges the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those arrested, promptly investigate attacks on protesters, and identify security agents suspected to be responsible and bring them to justice.
“Nigerian authorities need to take seriously the protesters’ socio-economic grievances, including by immediately taking measures to genuinely fight grand corruption, and improve access of Nigerians to basic public goods and services.”
SERAP, therefore, urged the international community including the UN Human Rights Council, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the African Union and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to publicly condemn attacks on peaceful protests and to put pressure on the Nigerian authorities and effectively investigate attacks on protesters, prosecute perpetrators and respect, protect the human rights of everyone.
The organisation maintained, “Nigerian constitution and human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party guarantee the rights to liberty and security of person, freedom from arbitrary detention, freedom of expression, and the right of peaceful assembly.
“The UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials prohibit the use of excessive force against peaceful protesters.”