#Revolution Now Protest: Groups Decry Attacks on Activists

#Revolution Now Protest: Groups Decry Attacks on Activists

…Call on Buhari Govt to End Use of Excessive Force Against Protesters …We Want a Better Society..Organisers Three leading rights groups – Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Movement for a Socialist Alternative (MSA) and the Afri-Goal Foundation, have strongly condemned reported violent attacks on #RevolutionNow protesters in Abuja, Lagos, Osogbo and other parts of

…Call on Buhari Govt to End Use of Excessive Force Against Protesters

…We Want a Better Society..Organisers

Three leading rights groups – Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Movement for a Socialist Alternative (MSA) and the Afri-Goal Foundation, have strongly condemned reported violent attacks on #RevolutionNow protesters in Abuja, Lagos, Osogbo and other parts of the country, demanding the immediate release of all those arrested..

They also call on the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to end the use of excessive force against protesters, and allow people to peacefully exercise their human rights.

The organisers of the protest say their demand is for the enthronement of a better Nigerian society. “It is obvious to the masses that it is not due to lack of resources that we are poor. Our lands are filled with abundant natural resources. And our labour creates vast wealth. But a few people make us work for pittance, pocketing the wealth our labour creates.

“They also exploit the natural resources of the land with reckless abandon, polluting the environment for profit. Those of them in government enrich themselves without the slightest sense of shame, piling billions of naira into their pockets,” they argue.

The Department of State Services (DSS) reportedly arrested Mr Olawale Bakare, a close associate of their acclaimed leader, Mr Omoyele Sowole 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 soldiers in Abuja, the federal capital territory.

In a statement by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “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.”

Stop Criminalising Protests

“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.”

Government Should Investigate Attacks

“SERAP urges 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 to effectively investigate attacks on protesters, prosecute perpetrators and to respect and protect the human rights of everyone.”

“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.”

Arrests of Activists

Also speaking in the same vein, the Movement for a Socialist Alternative (MSA) says it “received an unwholesome report of the arrest of some of our members and other activists converging for a peaceful protest by men of the Department of State Services (DSS) today, 5th of August.”

Recounting the ordeal of their members, the organisation’s spokesperson, Mr Dagga Tola says, “We are aware that Dunnex Samuel, a member of the MSA and student leader at the Obafemi Awolowo University, along with Mandate, Oguntola Sunday and other protesters were whisked away to an unknown location by the DSS in Osogbo.

“In Abuja, protesters converging for a similar protest have been arrested by the score while violent force was employed to disperse other peaceful protesters, most of whom suffered serious injuries from this mindless application of force on lawful protesters. Similar reports have been received from Lagos, where protesters met the same dehumanising violence in the hands of the Police and DSS men.

Descent into Dictatorship

“We condemn this attack as part of the continuous descent of the country into a brutish state of military repression. It is completely unacceptable, and we enjoin all Nigerians interested in preserving this country’s hard-earned democracy to condemn this emboldened descent into a civilian-military dictatorship.

“The activists were converging for a protest called by the Coalition for a Revolution (CORE) to oppose unlawful police detention of citizens, economic hardship among other oppressive and anti-democratic tendencies of the President Buhari’s regime. It is an act of state terror, pure and simple, that these protesters were arrested for exercising their lawful rights to speak out loudly against the oppressive conditions obtainable across the country.

“We demand their immediate and unconditional release. We condemn this tradition of using the DSS to repress every lawful opposition to the oppressive regime of Muhamadu Buhari. Nigerians cannot have it, as the regime is suggesting, that they are a conquered people in their own country, who cannot express their dissatisfaction, no matter how peaceful, against the daily hardship and oppression they suffer in the hands of the capitalist hordes Buhari is representing.

“Once again, we call on everyone dissatisfied with the oppressive state of affairs in the country to join us in the strongest opposition to these arrests and brutalisation of peaceful protesters, and call for their immediate and unconditional release,” MSA says..

Another group, the Afri-Goal Foundation also condemned the arrest and clampdown on peaceful protesters in Abuja.

Abuse of Power

In a statement, it described the arrests as an abuse of power by the Nigeria police and military and also a gross violation of constitutional rights of the protesters.

“This is not only an abuse of power by the Nigerian police and military but also a gross violation of the constitutionally guaranteed right of the protesters.

“The constitution of Nigeria recognised the right to peaceful protest and we urged the police and all other power-drunken officials to respect this fundamental right of the people.

“We demand the immediate and unconditional release of all protesters arrested today in Lagos, Abuja, Osun, Ondo and other states where protest action took place.

The group also asked “the Buhari-led administration to immediately release all those who are currently illegally detained and those undergoing different trumped-up charges.

“We urge the government to respect the rule of law and the constitution guiding the affairs of the country.

Afri-Goal Foundation says it “supports every form of peaceful protest and will go all the way to ensure this right is respected by the government including legal actions against the government if need be.”

Corruption and Mis-governance

Twenty nine #RevolutionaryNow activists were this morning arrested in Abuja. They were part of those who joined the protest called by the Coalition for Revolution (CORE) on Wednesday, August 5 against corruption and mis-governance in Nigeria.

The protests held in Abuja, Lagos, Ibadan, Abeokuta, Ado Ekiti, Calabar Akure, Kano and other parts of the country early Wednesday morning

In Abuja, soldiers pounced on the protesters asking them to lie on the floor. The Abuja members were arrested before they could gather enough protesters.

“They were gathering when we pounced on them. We are acting on orders from above” a security operative told Irohinoodua saying he was not permitted to speak officially.

The protesters who set out as early as 8am, carried various placards denouncing corruption and violence in some parts of the country.

The Placards and Banners

The placards read ‘Nigerians are sick and tired of poverty, corruption, injustice and untimely death’; ‘Say no to injustice’, ‘Yes to living wage for unemployed youths’.

The protesters wore orange berets, the trademark of the revolutionary group.

The attack by soldiers was at Unity Fountain, Shehu Shagari Way, Maitama, in Abuja.

Human rights lawyer, Mr Tope Akinyode, said the protesters including himself were molested and harassed.

Akinyode said, “They arrested about 29 of our people. Security officials made them to lie down and beat them. Even as a lawyer I was harassed. They pushed me around. This is very undemocratic”

Another member of the group, Mr Ayoola Babalola recalls their ordeal in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.

Second DSS Encounter

“Today, I had the second DSS encounter as we gathered for the #RevolutionNow protests at Kuto round about in Abeokuta.

“I was arrested at around 11:55 am and immediately whisked to the state Headquarters of the agency. Just like the government that gives it orders, the agency itself is clueless. We engaged in discussions for more than an hour. I was later transferred from the office of the director to their investigation room and then to a special investigation officer. By the time we were done, there was no charge to lay against us but they cannot appear like fools, so they transferred us to the office of the commissioner of Police in Ogun state.

“The commissioner is a nice, reasonable man. After my brief ‘speech,’ the man was left with no option than to give us fatherly advice on how we should channel our energy as youths and how we must be careful about the conceptualization of good ideas. It was a nice moment in his office. He later granted us bail (at no cost), and we were asked to return to the state headquarters tomorrow (Thursday) for perfection of ‘documentation.’

Babalola says, “Things are becoming clearer every day in this country and the need for a revolution cannot be more urgent. One of the DSS officers was having a conversation with his colleagues on a planned trip to Abuja, and the officer told him to ply the road probably on a night bus. The senior DSS officer was quick to reply that he cannot, because of the high rate of crime, kidnapping and terrorism on our highways. They are aware of the situation we are in this country; they just don’t know how to fix it.

“It was another fulfilling moment as I engaged the Police Superintendent, who was handling our bail process. The elderly man is frustrated already, while still in service. When we raised the issues of police uniforms, salaries, benefits, health and life assurance, the man was moved to tears and he could not but wish us well.

“There are times when we make history, there are times when history makes us. Whichever one will happen in this historical time in our country we don’t know. I just know that there is a job that needs to be done urgently,” he says..

Earlier, the organisers say “Working people and youth desiring a better Nigeria will be at the barricades today (Wednesday) for the #August5thProtest to denounce the current social, economic and political system which works for a few looters, brigands and vagabonds in power.

According to one of its Conveners, Mr Baba Aye, “Across several cities and towns, they will fan the embers of revolution, marking a year of the launch of the #RevolutionNow movement by the Coalition for Revolution (CORE), and taking our unrepentant struggle for system change forward.

Our Demands

“Our demands are straightforward and quite simple. We want an economy which works for the masses and not the 1% in and out of government. We want a living wage as the minimum wage and unemployment benefits for the unemployed. We want quality universal public healthcare and education. We want to stop corruption and the senseless killings that have become the order of the day.

“In short, we want a better society. And we will fight to emancipate ourselves from the clutches of the exploiters and oppressors who benefit from the present system. We will fight to build society anew, based on solidarity and the all-round development of everybody.

Why are we fighting?

“It is obvious to the masses that it is not due to lack of resources that we are poor. Our lands are filled with abundant natural resources. And our labour creates vast wealth. But a few people make us work for pittance, pocketing the wealth our labour creates. They also exploit the natural resources of the land with reckless abandon, polluting the environment for profit. Those of them in government enrich themselves without the slightest sense of shame, piling billions of naira into their pockets.

“Every other week, one set of massive corruption becomes news only to be displaced by news of even more terrible looting the following week. ExecutTHIEVES, legisLOOTERS, judiSHARING – members of all three roguish arms of government are complicit in these: from the presidency to the local government council.

“We were all witnesses on television to members of the House of Representatives telling the Chair of the Niger Delta Development Commission that “it is okay, that is enough” when he wanted to expose more cans of worms, during a public hearing on the NDDC’s spending of N81bn in just a few months. Just a handful of persons benefited from this “spending” while millions of poor people in the Niger delta go hungry – their rivers and lands despoiled from oil exploitation, their communities lacking basic social amenities.

“The Alpha Beta group of companies of Mr Bola Tinubu the “leader” of APC which rakes in billions of naira monthly as tax consultant for the Lagos state government was fingered in an N100bn scam, involving tax evasion and money laundering, since 2018. SimonsCooper Partners the law firm of Prof (Pastor) Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice President is implicit in this thievery. And Mr Magu, the disgraced boss of the anti-fraud agency EFCC, has been indicted for what pocketing billions of naira from the loot recovered by the agency.

“Will anything come out of all these? Absolutely not, if they can have their way, as we have learnt from experience. It has become commonplace for us to hear such news and then silence or at best a slap on the wrist while the thieves continue living large.

“Meanwhile, as economic crisis deepens in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, tens of thousands of workers are being sacked,. Bristow And Peace Air have recently sacked hundreds of workers in the aviation sector, with the salaries of those left on the job cut by up to 40%.

“The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation laid off 850 workers last month, and the international oil companies as well. Banks are sacking staff, despite the Central Bank’s hypocritical directive against this. And all these is despite General Buhari’s promise to the trade unions that jobs would be protected. Beyond promises worth less than a pinch of salt, as the Chemical and Non-metallic workers’ union pointed out, the federal government appears to support some industries sacking workers!

The Informal Economy

“The situation is no better for workers in the informal economy. To make ends meet has been tough enough. Governments only make this terrible situation worse. Their means of livelihood and their homes are demolished with impunity. Lagos state in particular is very much culpable of this brazen demonstration of inhumanity. Not less than two mechanic villages were torn down last month alone. More than forty have been demolished over the last twenty years. Hundreds of shops, kiosks and motor parks have also been demolished over the last few months. Hundreds of homes in informal settlements have also been demolished, leaving tens of thousands of poor people homeless.

“Our heartless rulers care less for our children as well. They have re-opened schools without putting adequate safety and health measures in place for pupils and teachers. The exclusive private schools their own children attend have everything in place. But our public schools are in shambles. No running water, no space for adequate physical distancing or recreation, and no motivation in terms of remuneration or working conditions for overworked teachers.

Covid-19 Test

“Knowing how poor the masses whose children attend public schools are, some governments even cruelly ask parents to pay N25,000 for COVID-19 and malaria testing. And this in a country where the minimum wage (which one third of the states are yet to pay and others pay kwashiorkor versions of) is just N30,000. They also expect us to buy facemasks for our wards and children. Meanwhile, teachers in private schools, including those who teach the well-fed children of the rich in the elite schools have not been paid salaries for upwards of four months.

“It is not enough to complain – it is time to FIGHT!

“Nigerians, except for the few that comprise this class of thieves, are tired of all this state of original sufferhead. In newspapers, on street corners, at newspaper vendors’ stands, and in our different homes and offices, people complain and verbally express their anger.

“We all want genuine and fundamental change. Not the “is coming” kind of 419 “change” of the APC which it used to obtain power by trick in 2015. What we actually want is emancipatory change which will lift the burden of suffering off our shoulders.

“But this kind of change is revolutionary change, and it will not come on its own. It will not be simply given to us on a platter of gold. We can challenge the powers that be in court, through statements, petitions and so on and so forth. These are all good, but they are not enough.

Oppressive System

“We must defeat the bosses, the rich 1%ers and their system who benefit from this system, and destroy their exploitative and oppressive system, for us to be free – free of hunger, free of insecurity, free of oppression, free of exploitation, free of humiliation, free of sufferation. Only we ourselves, can free ourselves.

“In our hands is placed a greater power than the hoarded gold of the bosses, as the Solidarity Forever song teaches us. Our power lies in the organisation of our labour and on the streets. Revolution is the only way the working masses can break the chains of this vampirish system.

“Revolution now, is the way forward to liberate ourselves. We know the journey will be rough, for the exploiters will not easily surrender from sucking the blood of the sufferers. But the people united and determined cannot be defeated,” Aye contends.

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