By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA: The Federal Capital Territory Administration FCTA has released over 40 #RevolutionNow protesters who were earlier in the day arrested at the Unity Fountain by a joint security taskforce for violating the Covid-19 safety protocols.
The protesters had heeded the call of Omoyele Sowore, leader of the ‘Take it Back Movement’, organizers of the #RevolutionNow protest to kick against governmental failures but were arrested at the fountain for not wearing facemasks in public and holding a gathering of over 20 people.
Although they were taken before the FCT Mobile Court for prosecution, Magistrate Idayat Akanni who was to preside over the matter was said to be attending to several other cases and so the mobile court could not sit.
Chairman of the FCT Ministerial Enforcement Task-team on Covid-19 Restrictions, Ikharo Attah said while the taskforce cannot stop the group from protesting, they must, however, obey the safety guidelines which the Taskteam is mandated to enforce.
According to him, “about 40 of them have all been released and tasked to always obey the Covid-19 safety regulations whenever they are out to protest. Saying you have the right to association, right to protest, a right to freedom of speech and expression but as you do all of this you must always conform to Covid-19 health protocols.
“The enforcement team went out in our normal routine operations and we arrested some persons who came to protest and it is very clear that this is a democratic nation and everyone has the right to protest, to voice out but this must be done within the rules that governs the country and one of such rules is to obey the Covid-19 safety protocols. So, they were brought to the Mobile Court as a result of Covid-19 safety violations.
“When there is a protest, social distancing is very difficult to observe, so when they came to the court, the magistrate had several other cases in other court and couldn’t sit and in our own wisdom, as persons with listening ears, we talked to them, and it was agreed by all parties that they should go and observe all the laid down Covid-19 protocols before they will be released and they agreed to do that”, he explained.
Earlier, General Secretary of the United Action for Democracy and a leading member of ‘Take It Back Movement’, Comrade Kunle Ajayi said they came out to protest against the decay in the public sector before they were chased out, beating and brought before the court.
He said; “We are here to lead the revolution and protest for free, functional and standard education at all levels; free functional and advanced healthcare. A very good example is under this Covid-19 pandemic that we are in. Hospitals are not working, doctors are on strike, a lot of things are wrong with the country. We decided to mobilize community by community, street by street for people to come out and tell the government that enough is enough. That Nigerians want better education, better healthcare and social welfare and topmost of it all is the issue of security. You cannot continue to do as if the country is a graveyard.
“As it is today in most paryt of this country, everybody is living without security and that is why we wondered, why we legally and constitutionally came to protest at the specific place that is assigned for protest in FCT, which is the Unity Fountain. We were in the place with face masks and we observed social distancing and we came out to protest peacefully but we were chased out of the place not only were we chased out, we were beating out”, he said.