Nigeria@60: Protests rock Abuja, Lagos, Osogbo

RevolutionNow Protest against bad governance in Nigeria at Maryland In Lagos yesterday.

…DSS’ bid to disrupt Osogbo protest fails as Ataoja shows solidarity

…Security arrests, releases protesters

…Journalist brutalised, activists arrested as police disrupt RevolutionNow protest in Lagos

…Sowore’s group march in Abuja against poor governance

…Storms US embassy over insecurity

…Demands Buhari’s resignation

…SERAP condemns attack on Punch photographer

By Luminous Jannamike, Gabriel Ewepu & Shina Abubakar

Osogbo—Despite warning by the Police, protests yesterday rocked Osogbo, Lagos and Abuja over poor governance, as the country celebrated its 60th independent anniversary.

The protesters, who said they were merely exercising their fundamental rights, argued that the security agencies had no right to suppress their wish to complain about how the country was being mismanaged.

In Osogbo, the Osun State capital, attempts by the Department of State Services, DSS, to stop the protest failed as arrested protesters regrouped after they were released and embarked on peaceful protest across major streets in the town.

Some protesters, however, alleged that they were assaulted in the build-up to the second protest.

Police’s siege

A combined team of Police and DSS had, as early as 8am, gathered at the Nelson Mandela Freedom Park where the protesters were billed to converge.

However, the protesters, despite the heavy presence of security personnel, met at the venue and moved round the Old Garage roundabout before they were forcibly dispersed.

About 10 of the protesters were arrested, while two were brutalised by the security personnel in an attempt to take them away, but other protesters stood their ground, insisting that their colleagues be released or they should all be taken into detention.

The protesters, under the aegis of Coalition for Revolution, CORE, after securing the release of other members, regrouped at Ola-Iya junction where they also had altercation with another group of DSS officers before they proceeded with the protest.

One of the conveners, Basit Olokuta of Youth Vanguard for National Development, YOVANAD, berated the DSS personnel for the manner they assaulted protesters at Old-Garage for peacefully demanding a better country.

“It is greatly unfortunate at this time in the history of Nigeria as a democratic nation that personnel of the DSS can harass and brutalise female protesters.

‘’They had wanted to take them away but we stood our ground before they were released. I was also mercilessly beaten at Ola-Iya junction by the DSS men before we were allowed to proceed with the protest,” he said.

Meanwhile as the protesters continue to demonstrate in front of the Correspondent’s Chapel in Osogbo, Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Oyetunji Olaonipekun, who ran into the protest stopped to show solidarity with the protesters.

The Oba, who wound down his car’s window glass, told the protesters that their action was in the interest of Nigerians and could lead to an end to bad governance.

“This protest is right so that it will be able to correct this anomaly in this country I support your action. God bless you,” he said.

In Lagos, no fewer than eight persons were arrested when security operatives disrupted the RevolutionNow protest.

The protesters, who stormed Ojota and Maryland axis of the state, marched through the streets demanding a better society.

They were on their way home when a group of armed police officers attacked them.

Punch journalist

Kayode Jaiyeola, a photojournalist with The PUNCH who was covering the event, was brutalised by the police officers.

He was beaten with a baton which left him bleeding on the head.

Lagos State police commissioner, Hakeem Odumosu, was said to have later apologised to journalists for the “irresponsible act”, and that the police officer involved had been arrested and disarmed.

“The man was doing his lawful duty and the police assaulted him, we will take care of it. Once again, I apologies for that,” Odumosu said.

He also said the medical bill of the journalist would be taken care of by the police.

In Abuja, RevolutionNow Movement held a street demonstration to protest poor governance.

Sowore’s demand

The group, led by a former presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore, also stormed the United States Embassy to express displeasure over the alarming state of insecurity and economic backwardness in the country.

The protesters equally demanded the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari over  alleged failure of his administration to tackle insecurity, hunger, and corruption in the land.

READ ALSO: Thousands join protests in Israel despite virus lockdown

Bearing banners with inscriptions such as ‘Buhari has failed’, ‘Resign Now’, and ‘Failed leadership has made Nigeria the poverty capital of the world’’, the protesters marched through Area 1 roundabout, chanting solidarity songs to amplify their message.

Speaking to reporters during the protest, Sowore demanded the reversal of all ‘anti-people’ policies implemented by the present administration.

He said:  “These harsh policies that have burnt a burdensome hole into the pockets of  Nigerian people are coming at a time citizens are recovering from the adverse effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, a global health crisis mismanaged by the Buhari’s government, further plunging already struggling citizens into deeper financial problems.

“It also comes at a time there is an unprecedented dictatorial-style crackdown on free speech, dissent, activism, journalism and the right to congregate peacefully and protest.”

The demonstration was initially billed to commence at the Unity Fountain by 8;00am but soldiers, policemen, and other security agents took over the venue before the protest commenced.

Other leading activists who joined the protest included Aisha Yesufu, Ariyo Dare-Atoye, Henry Shield, Adebayo Raphael, and Deji Adeyanju.

The critics unanimously condemned what they described as oppression in the country.

Yesufu, in her remarks, noted that the fortunes of the nation were on a downward spiral, stressing that urgent steps must be taken to arrest the situation.

She also berated the government for failing to address the insecurity in the country.

Meanwhile, at the US Embassy, Deji Adeyanju, lashed out at government for failing to address the nagging security problem in the country.

He appealed to the US to place a visa ban on the Director-General of the Department of State Services, DSS, for clamping down on protesters in Osogbo.

On his part, Raphael Adebayo said Nigerians have passed a vote of no confidence on the country’s political leadership.

Meanwhile, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has condemned the attack on Punch photographer, and called on Nigerian authorities to immediately stop persistent attacks on protesters and journalists and end repression on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

SERAP’s take

In a statement by SERAP, Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, while reacting to the incident, said, “ We condemn the attacks today (yesterday) on #RevoltionNow peaceful protesters and journalists covering the protests including the reported physical assault of a photojournalist with The PUNCH, Olukayode Jaiyeola by men of the Lagos State Police Command.

“Nigerians have every reason to peacefully protest repression, and the government of President Buhari has constitutional and international obligations to allow them to do so safely.

“We call on the international community and the UN  Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to publicly condemn these violations and to hold Nigerian authorities to account for systematic violations of human rights, freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.”



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