Undaunted by the awry repression of their protests tagged RevolutionNow, which held in different cities across the country on Monday, leaving some supporters injured and others including journalists arrested, organisers say they will press on with their rallies and demonstrations tomorrow. They also resolved to shift the venue of their protest in Lagos, to Freedom
Undaunted by the awry repression of their protests tagged RevolutionNow, which held in different cities across the country on Monday, leaving some supporters injured and others including journalists arrested, organisers say they will press on with their rallies and demonstrations tomorrow. They also resolved to shift the venue of their protest in Lagos, to Freedom Park, Ojota.
Recounting their unsavoury experience in the hands of security forces, one of the Conveners of the Coalition for Revolution (CORE), organisers of RevolutionNow, Mr Sheni Ajai, narrates their ordeal in a statement:
“At about 7 am this morning of August 5th 2019, the premises of the Media Lab in Ikeja GRA that houses Sahara Reporters Media Foundation was under siege by Police and DSS Officers. This act of intimidation prevented workers in their numbers from going about their legal duties of investigative journalism, civic engagement and policy advisory. This act of intimidation and harassment is condemnable in a democratic setting.
“But despite the unreasonable threats by all State apparatus, the RevolutionNow mass protests were successful in over 14 Cities, locally and internationally. Nigerians trooped out in their thousands to express their displeasure at the poor living conditions, this administration like other previous ones keeps inflicting on them. The international cities are London, Ireland, Berlin, Geneva and New York.
“The streets of Nigeria were heavily militarized like there was war. We won’t be wrong if we said war was declared against oppressed Nigerians expressing their anger in a civil way. Very early into the protest, Police officers dispersed the crowd of people with canisters of tear gas and gun shots, fired directly at protesters.
He said a protester in Lagos was shot in the leg, while 32 were brutalized, beaten and injured by a combination of armed-to-the-teeth Police, DSS, SARS officers, Soldiers and thugs.
Ajai also revealed that a total of 55 Nigerians (30 in Ogun, 9 in Lagos, 2 in Ore, 2 in Calabar, 4 in Oshogbo, 3 in Ibadan, 5 in Benue) have been arrested as at the last count.
“As of the moment, we are yet to confirm the number of indiscriminate arrests in several other cities as the Police started arresting sympathizers and passers-by in a gestapo manner,” he said.
Reports indicate that the protests elicited popular support in the cities monitored.
Policeman and Soldiers on Monday dispersed members of the movement who converged at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.
The protest was called by Coalition for Revolution (CORE) which has Mr Omoyele Sowore, presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the February 2019 General Election, and publisher of the online medium, Sahara Reporters as one of the prime movers..
He described the move as a protest against bad governance in the country.
Sowore was on Saturday arrested by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) at his home.
The DSS had said that Sowore was arrested “for threatening public safety, peaceful co-existence and social harmony in the country.”
The protesters who arrived at the National Stadium, Lagos around 7 am on Monday, for the kick-off of the protest met a detachment of policemen at the entrance of the stadium. Some soldiers later joined the policemen.
The protesters, however, started chanting calling for the release of Omoyele Sowore. Shortly after, policemen fired teargas and shot into the air to disperse the protesters.
One of the protesters told newsmen that he was discussing the protest plans with others when security operatives crossed over the road to meet them.
“We were standing here, while they watched us from the other side. Suddenly, they moved on us and said we can’t talk to the press. We weren’t even talking to the press yet. We were addressing ourselves,” he said.
Athletes who work out at the stadium were forced to do their physical exercise outside as security agents surrounded the facility.
The security agents have the OP MESA vans parked around the stadium.
The Operation MESA or OP MESA, as it is commonly referred to, is a joint Internal Security Operational platform made up of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. Some protesters were arrested and taken into a van marked Lagos State Task force.
A journalist with Sahara Reporters, an online news medium, was among those arrested.as the police dispersed the crowd at the venue. Although he was identified by his colleagues, the reporter was said to have failed to show any form of identification before he was whisked away.
Officers of the Army, Air Force, Department of State Service (DSS), Police and other paramilitary took over the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, over the planned #RevolutionNow protest.
The heavily armed security operatives took over all the Central Business District (CBD), despite the heavy rainfall making it impossible for the protesters to get to the main venue of the planned protest, Unity Fountain, Maitama, Abuja.
One of the organisers of the protest, Mr Ariyo-Dare Atoye, said that the protest would still go on, but only they are still studying the situation.
A combined team of security operatives stormed the main entrance of the University of Ibadan in the morning in a bid to stop the planned nationwide RevolutionNow protest.
The presence of heavily armed security operatives around the main gate of the premier university took many students, lecturers and other visitors to the institution unaware.
.It was gathered that the combined team of Police, Department of State Services, Nigerian army and NSCDC, SARS officials and Oyo State combined security team code-named “Operation Burst” had, as early as 6:30 am taken over the University of Ibadan main gate in anticipation of the protest expected to get mobilised at the university.
The security agents, however, did not prevent any movement despite their heavy presence.
However, there was no sign of protest as the combined security team were monitoring the situation in about 300 metres in front of the university.
But in a commando-like manner, the security team apprehended a young man who was taking pictures of the security agents and was not spared heavy slaps from the gun-wielding mobile police officers and their SARS counterparts.
A supporter of the Sowore-led RevolutionNow said that the protest had been “technically stopped” for reasons he could not say.
The Oyo State Police Command, while reacting, however, cautioned residence of the state to steer clear of the planned protest tagged: “Revolution March Against the Federal Government of Nigeria”.
Public Relations Officer of the state Police Command, Mr Olugbenga Fadeyi, in a statement said that the command will not fold its arm and allow any group to cause anarchy in the state.
“The Oyo State Commissioner of Police, Mr Shina Olukolu wishes to inform the entire citizens of this state to disregard the above captioned message and video trending on the social media being circulated by a faceless group called “Global Dilation for Security and Democracy in Nigeria and others”.
“It is an illegal group attempting to incite the generality of the people to join a planned ‘Revolution’ March Against the Federal Government of Nigeria today Monday 5th August, 2019 mainly to force a regime change in the country. This is against the law of the land.
“The Police in Oyo State will not fold its arms and allow any individual or group to create anarchy, chaos and acts that can leads breakdown of law and order,” the statement read.
The Cross River State Correspondent of The Nation Newspapers, Nicholas Kalu and some persons suspected to be members of African Action Congress (AAC) have been arrested by the police.
The journalist and the others were arrested on Monday at the venue of the RevolutionNow protest in the cultural centre in Calabar, the Cross River state capital.
It was gathered that aside the journalist, reporters with an online medium, “CrossRiverWatch” suspected to be members of AAC, Mr Jonathan Ugbal and Mr Jeremiah Archibong, were also arrested.
The reason for the arrest of the journalist was not immediately known as it was learnt that he was at the venue to cover the protest.
When members of the Correspondents’ Chapel made a phone call to the arrested journalist, his phone line was not going through.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the State, DSP Irene Ugbo said she was not aware of the arrest of the journalist but assured that he would be released if he was actually arrested.
“I don’t know the situation, I am not in the office, but if at all he was arrested, he will be released, ” she said.
Reacting, the Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Cross River State Council, Mr Victor Udu regretted the action of the security personnel, stating that the journalist was there to cover the protest not as member of AAC.
“I condemn the act totally, the Journalist is just doing his job, he did not go there with any weapon, he went there with his jotter and pen,” he said, calling for his immediate and unconditional release.
Meanwhile, there was tension in the State as Police and other security agencies embarked on show of force movement in a long convoy with security personnel and armoured tank patrolling the streets.
Sporting activities at the Kwara Stadium Complex, Ilorin in the early hours of Monday was put to a halt with the presence of heavily armed men of the Nigeria Police.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that athletes who had arrived at the stadium for training were turned back by the Police.
Many of the athletes were stranded in and around the stadium gate at the popular Taiwo Ibrahim road in Ilorin.
Some of them who spoke with NAN questioned why sportsmen would be denied access to facilities to train.
NAN investigations revealed that the police were ordered to block the stadium gate against the #RevolutionNow protest
Supporters of CORE held a peaceful protest in Osogbo, Osun State capital, demanding for the unconditional release its leader. The protest, which was held at the popular Olaiya junction occasioned traffic gridlock for almost one hour.
Addressing the demonstrators, the leader of the coalition for #RevolutionIsNow protest in Osun State, Mr Olawale Adebayo said: “we joined other concerned Nigerians all over the nation and precisely in Osun State today to align with the pains of the voiceless and oppressed Nigerians.”
He averred that “having observed the spate of joblessness, insecurity, hunger, modulated workers salary and fraudulent implication of the Contributory Pension Scheme in Nigeria and especially Osun State, estimated electricity billing and epileptic power supply, destruction of farms by herdsmen, the inconsiderate and insensitive levies being imposed on our artisans, Okada riders, commuters drivers and traders in the state, we hereby maintain that we have inalienable, constitutionally and fundamental human rights to peacefully protest the inadequacies.”
“We, therefore, demand the following: the unconditional release of Omoyele Sowore. We call for an economy that works for all banks and foreign multinationals. For an effective and democratic end to insecurity and insurgency. An end to systemic corruption and total system change in the interest of all.”
“We demand the immediate implementation of N30,000 minimum wage. The immediate stop to the illegal and fraudulent Implementation of Contributory Pension Scheme and prompt investigation and resolution scheme.
“End to police brutality, harassment and intimidations especially in the student populated areas (UNIOSUN, OAU, Poly Iree, Fedpoly Ede, OSCOED, in Osun State and the country at large.”
“Immediate increase of funding of the education sector up to 26 per cent of the national budget as recommended by UNESCO.
“An immediate stop to student victimisation and anti-students policies within university communities across the federation. Immediate and unconditional reinstatement of student unionism, and affordable tertiary education for all.
“We hereby demand the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to abide by the aforementioned demands as a matter of urgency as expected from a responsible government,” Adebayo asserted.
Shortly after the address, the protesters who attempted to storm Olaiya Junction to kickstart the protest were stopped by armed DSS men and police.
A former Politics Editor at Daily Trust newspaper, Ibrahim Dan-Halilu, has been arrested by the Department for Security Service (DSS) in Kaduna for allegedly supporting the activities of RevolutionNow in a Facebook post.
PRNigeria gathered that Mr. Dan-Halilu a former staunch supporter of President Muhammadu before the 2015 elections was once a communication specialist with USAID, Information Assistant at the US Embassy and a Regional Communication Specialist for Family Health.
Operatives of DSS, it was gathered stormed Mr. Dan-Halilu’s residence in Rigachikun, Kaduna State, on Monday night and whisked him away at about 2am.
Mr. Dan-Halilu posted on his Facebook timeline that he endorsed and supported the activities of #RevolutionNow.
The post reads: “I feel I should share because it resonates with me. If resonates with you too, please share until all oppressed people of Nigeria get the message and domesticate it. This is #Not the Nigeria of My Dream.
“Somebody asked me why we need a revolution now, this was my reply: The aim of the revolution is to challenge the uncommon hardship why we have 16m children on the street; challenge why we have become the poverty capital of the world; challenge why we have 20 persons with corrupt cases as federal legislators and would-be Ministers.
“We need to restructure the country. We need to put an end to trillions spent on electricity while we live in darkness and pay estimated bill for electricity and meters. Why do we have huge oil reserves but our refineries are dead and we are re-importing what we exported as crude oil? It is time to ask why those in government travel abroad for medical care when they have left our hospitals dilapidated; why they send their children to school abroad when our children learn under mango trees.
“We are revolting against the continuing killings that have left 20,000 Nigerians dead while those in office move around under state paid security and do nothing. We are revolting against them because over a thousand Nigerians soldiers killed by Boko Haram have been secretly buried without identifiable graves, dignity or honour. $16m was purportedly spent on mosquito nets but our children die daily from malaria. $320m Abacha loot was purportedly distributed to the poor. Where is the verifiable list? N500bn was purportedly distributed to the poor as so-called Trader-moni. Where is the verifiable list?
“With divine grace, God gave us about 40 natural resources spread across the length and breadth of the country. No country on mother earth is as blessed! The persons destroying Nigeria in and out of government are less than 10,000. For how long will the 201 million of us be silent? Forever? It will be sheer stupidity and very unfair of us to be silent and bequeath today’s sorry Nigeria to our children. For how long shall we continue to endure bad leadership from certificate forgers, election riggers, ritualists and yahoo politicians, hoping upon hope for a better tomorrow when things get worse by the day? We are too rich to be poor. We are too blessed to be a mockery of the world!!! No!!!”
Meanwhile, security source who spoke to PRNigeria in confidence, confirmed that DSS operatives had invited the former Daily Trust Editor on Monday night. He, however, pointed out that the reason behind the detention of Dan-Halilu was not for any serious issue.
“Contrary to the speculation going rounds, DSS just wants to get some necessary clarification from Mr. Dan-Halilu on vital security issues. That’s all and nothing more,” he said.