‘Nigeria is now a full-blown dictatorship’ — CSOs react
Target Lagos, Ogun CPs and their families for US, UK, EU visa ban
By Luminous Jannamike – Abuja
Hundreds of youths protesting for an end to police brutality, under the aegis the EndSARS campaign, were attacked by some military personnel in Abuja on Tuesday.
The incident happened at the ‘Three Arm Zone’ junction which links the State House Aso Villa, the National Assembly and the Supreme Court with the Federal Secretariat Complex.
The Soldiers, said to be deployed from the Presidential Guard Brigade, had earlier blocked the protesters who were heading to the National Assembly.
The demonstrators had assembled at the Unity Fountain along Shehu Shagari way by 10:00 a.m. before marching to the federal legislature to make their demands known to the lawmakers.
Upon meeting with the soldiers, the protesters repeatedly chanted “End Police brutality”.
They knelt on one knee each, raised up their clenched right fists, and even sang the national anthem to demonstrate the civil nature of the protest.
Despite the apparent signs that they were on a peaceful mission, the soldiers swooped on them when they refused to heed the warning to retreat and restrict their agitation to the Unity Fountain ground.
The first casualties in the attack were the reporters covering the protest. The soldiers forcefully took away several mobile phones and cameras from the media.
Meanwhile, those who resisted the attempts to have their gadgets confiscated were molested.
On the other hand, the military personnel forced the protesters to lie down on the ground while they hit some with the butt of their guns.
Eventually, the protesters dispersed and retreated to the Unity Fountain against their will.
Speaking after the incident, a protest leader and Executive Director of Enough is Enough (EiE) Nigeria, Yemi Adamolekun, said: “This is a notice to the world that ‘Nigeria is now a full-blown dictatorship.’
“They are trying to hurt the people and crush citizens’ legitimate demand for an end to Police brutality. Those who swore to defend and protect the country’s democracy are setting it on fire.
“We have not been blind to the erosion of democratic values in the government of President Buhari.
“They have never hidden their disdain for the rule of law. Nigerian youths will not bow their knees to dictatorship, never again.”
In a similar vein, Convener of Concerned Nigerians, Comrade Deji Adeyanju, said: “When I got to the Abuja protest venue and saw soldiers harassing protesters, the scene worried me. President Buhari is running the country like it’s a military regime.”
The activist noted that this is not the first time the military has deployed personnel to attack peaceful protesters, especially in Abuja, Nigeria’s seat of government.
“When we staged a 99-day sit-out protest, demanding justice for Shi’ites that were killed, the soldiers and police attacked us several times. The attacks and detentions we have faced in the last four years are too numerous to count,” he said.
Lagos, Ogun CPs and families for visa ban
Meanwhile, as the EndSARS protests continue to gather momentum in other parts of the country, Adeyanju revealed that his organization has updated its petition for a visa ban on some high-ranking police officers.
He said the list now includes the names of the Lagos and Ogun state commissioners of police, Hakeem Odumosu and Edward Ajogun, respectively.
“It is important to note that these senior police officers refused to stop the extrajudicial killings of EndSARS protesters within their command by officers under them.
“They are, therefore, vicariously liable for the actions of the officers under them. We also requested they extend this visa ban to members of their families,” Adeyanju said.
The activist urged the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union to grant the petition as a deterrence to others.