Human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Femi Falana, on Wednesday condemned the security operatives who blocked the offices of the Committee for the Defence of Human Right (CDHR) and online publication, Sahara Reporters, to prevent planned meeting of pro-#Revolution Now elements.
Conveners of the #RevolutionNow movement had planned to commence their agitations around 11am for the release of the publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore and other agitators arrested by security agents for alleged treasonable felony.
But as early as 7am yesterday, operatives of the police, Department of State Services (DSS) and the military laid siege to the CDHR under the guise of preventing breakdown of law and order.
Unknown to the security agents, the protesters had another card up their sleeves as the planned protest kicked-off on the streets and not the CDHR office as anticipated.
The protesters who spotted orange berets and carried banners inscribed “free them all,” “kill insecurity, bad governance”, embarked on a kilometre march from Under the Ikeja Bridge to Allen Avenue.
Reacting to the action of the security operatives, Falana said the government should stop harassing law-abiding citizens, noting that Sowore has been held for over 45 days in defiance to the court ruling that granted the DSS 45-day remand.
“In spite of the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, the Police had wanted to disrupt and stop the peaceful meeting of law-abiding citizens to discuss the illegal detention of Omoyele Sowore, Agba Jalingo, Abayomi Olawale and scores of others being incarcerated in various detention facilities in the country.
“Contrary to the order of the Federal High Court that Sowore be detained for 45 days, the State Security Service (SSS) has incarcerated him for 47 days. Last week, the Federal High Court turned down the application for the renewal of its order for the detention of Messrs Agba Jalingo and Ekanem Ekpo for 14 days.
“In spite of the expiration of the detention order of the two journalists, they are being held by the police in Cross River. Mr. Abayomi Olawale, who was arrested on August 5, has been detained for 45 days by the State Security Service (SSS) without any court order whatsoever.
“These detainees and scores of others languishing in illegal custody ought to be released forthwith.
“While congratulating the organisers of the symposium for successfully holding the programme at another venue, the harassment of law-abiding citizens cannot be tolerated under a regime that is busy negotiating with bandits and terrorists, bribing them with public funds and granting them amnesty,” Falana said.
Co–convener of Coalition for Revolution (CORE) Olaseni Ajayi said the invasion was another desperate attempt to forcefully stop the planned peaceful agitation against detention of activists without trial.
He said the government’s action confirmed that the civil rights fought for over the years were crudely being removed by President Muhammadu Buhari’s government.
“The rights to speech, association, protest and even to think are no more guaranteed under this neo-regime.
“However, our agitation for the immediate release of Omoyele Sowore, Agba Jalingo, Abayomi Olawale (Mandate) and all others currently being held in Buhari detention centres, and for the revolutionary transformation of the country continues,” he said.
But the police denied they sealed off Sahara Reporters’ office, insisting there was no security invasion at the mentioned locations.
Spokesman for the Police Command Bala Elkana, a Deputy Superintendent (DSP), said all they did was deploy security to avoid breakdown of law and order.
He said, “It is not correct to say that police sealed off Sahara Reporters or invaded CDHR’s office. No such thing happened. What security agencies did was deploy men for the maintenance of peace and order. We did not stop any protest and we did not touch anyone. We just ensured that enough security was on ground to prevent a breakdown of law and order.”