Suspected miscreants on Monday attacked and disrupted a peaceful protest organised by a coalition of civil society groups over the continued detention of #RevolutionNow convener, Omoyele Sowore.
The activists had gathered at the National Human Rights Commission in Maitama, Abuja to present a letter to the Secretary of the Commission when they were attacked by the hoodlums who were carrying a large banner with the inscription, ‘Support Buhari, say no to saboteurs.’
The coalition members were singing and wielding placards with inscriptions such as ‘Stop silencing dissenting voices,’ ‘save our democracy,’ and ‘NHRC must protect our rights,’ when the pro-government group emerged from one of the streets and disrupted the rally, shouting ‘Sai Baba’ and praising the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
A few minutes later, they attacked the activists and journalists who scampered for safety.
The boys pounced on one of the coalition leaders, Deji Adeyanju and two other members.
They assaulted them with sticks and other objects.
Adeyanju sustained some injuries and was subsequently rescued from his assailants and taken to an unidentified hospital for treatment.
A police team attempted to stop the melee but were overwhelmed by the miscreants.
The convener, Free Nigeria Movement, Ralph Adebayo described the attack as unfortunate and a sign of things to come in 2020.
Adebayo stated: “What happened today is a tip of the iceberg, it is a sign of things to come in 2020. Everybody should brace up for the battle to save and defend democracy in Nigeria.”
“This is not a battle for activists alone, but for every citizen to defend their constitutional rights. What happened is very sad and unfortunate. The police were standing by watching the miscreants attacking us. This incident should be investigated by the police authorities,” he insisted.
But Ibrahim Dala, who led the suspected miscreants, denied ordering them to attack the coalition members, noting that the assault was in reaction to the verbal insults from the activists.
Dala, who described himself as the co-convener of the Centre for Leadership and Development Initiatives said: “We would not allow foreign mercenaries and opposition to come and sabotage the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.”
A coalition of civil society groups two weeks ago had given a 14-day ultimatum to occupy NHRC offices nationwide.
Presenting a statement in Abuja on behalf of the CSOs, two weeks ago, ‘Yemi Adamolekun, of Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE Nigeria), had said if their demands were not met within the period, “we call on patriots to join us as we occupy the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) offices across the country, as it is legally mandated to protect rights and it reports to the Presidency.”
The statement was signed by Osai Ojigho, Amnesty International (Nigeria); Idayat Hassan, Centre for Democracy & Development (CDD); Auwal Musa, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC); Deji Adeyanju, Concerned Nigerians; ‘Yemi Adamolekun, Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE Nigeria); Lanre Suraj, (HEDA) & People’s Alternative Front;Kola Ogundare, Socio-Economic Right And Accountability Project (SERAP);Jaye Gaskia, Take Back Nigeria (TBN); Biola Akiode-Afolabi, Women Advocates Research; and Documentation Centre (WARDC) & Transition Monitoring Group (TMG).
Sowore and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare, detained by the Department of State Services (DSS) are standing trial on charges bordering on treasonable felony and money laundering amongst other charges.
Sowore was arrested on August 3, 2019 despite a Federal High Court order for them to be released on bail, the DSS, who acknowledged receipt of the order early November, had still kept them in custody, their reason being that the appropriate sureties had not come for them.
But following an order of Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday December 5, 2019 that the duo released under 24 hours and a cost of N100, 000 awarded against the DSS, they were released at about 5pm on the same day.
However, on December 6, they were rearrested by the DSS after their appearance at the Federal High Court in fresh charges.