The Nigerian Police Force Monday said the #RevolutionNow protesters were dispersed in Lagos because they didn’t get permission from the police before staging the protest. “The gathering is unlawful, an unlawful gathering is meant to be dispersed,” the Area Commander, Area C, ACP Tijani Fatai said on Monday. “There is not going to be any protest nobody contacted the police whether peaceful or not they were not permitted to protest.” Tijani insisted that the police had been mandated to stop the protest from holding and that was why armed security operatives barricade the National Stadium where protesters were gathering.
Protesters converged on the National Stadium Surulere, Lagos to demand the release of Sahara Reporter’s publisher Omoyele Sowore’s but they were forcefully dispersed by soldiers and policemen. Sowore’s arrest came after he called for a massive protest against the Nigerian government. Sowore was arrested in the early hours of Saturday for allegedly inciting regime change. The Department of State Services (DSS) while confirming Sowore’s arrest said his call for a nationwide protest against the government threatened public safety, peaceful co-existence, and social harmony.
“These threats include threats of sabotage, threats of subversion, threat of terrorism and, of course, ethnic agitations, separatist agitations, economic sabotage and others. If we are operating as a responsible security organisation and someone is calling for revolution in Nigeria, we must understand the meaning of revolution,” DSS spokesman Peter Afunanya said on Sunday.
The convener of the protest and publisher of Sahara Reporters, who the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress in Nigeria’s last general elections, said he was aware of security agencies monitoring him hours before he was eventually arrested. Sowore’s arrest triggered widespread condemnation, with Nigerians calling for his immediate release hence the nationwide protests.
In Osogbo, Osun State, armed police and DSS operatives stopped members of the #RevolutionNow group from protesting. The protesters, led by Olawale Adebayo, had arrived the popular Olaiya Junction to address newsmen on the reason for the protest, but were halted by the DSS and police personnel who arrived the scene.
The operatives asked the protesters to disperse but were rebuffed by a group of youths decked in orange berets and handkerchiefs, who stood their ground and sang protest songs. At this point, the security team fired tear gas at the crowd which eventually dispersed them.
In Rivers, Gov. Nyesom Wike said the organisers of #RevolutionNow are not allowed to hold any anti-government protest in the state. “Rivers State does not subscribe to what the RevolutionNow protest represents and Rivers State is not part of the protest,” Wike said in a statement, adding: “Security agencies in the state should arrest anybody involved in the RevolutionNow protest and also take all necessary steps to prosecute such persons.”
But the organisers of the protest insisted it will hold as scheduled. A spokesman for the organisers Kunle Wizeman Ajayi said the arrest of Sowore was not surprising. Ajayi accused the Nigerian government of bribing social media influencers to discredit the purposes of the protest. “A failed government cannot use force to make the mass of people to accept its failure,” he said. Sahara Reporters said that Wike and the ruling APC planned to hijack the protest, explaining that Wike’s directive to security agents in the state to “arrest anybody involved in the #RevolutionNow protest” is a ploy to disrupt the protest.
Nigeria’s Presidency Sunday asked organisers and sponsors of the proposed nationwide ‘RevolutionNow’ protest to reveal their identity and not hide under veiled social media posts.
“We call on the sponsors and organisers to have the decency to come forward and make their identity known – out of respect to all Nigerians – so that Nigerians can be fully aware in whose name this “revolution” is being proposed and who the beneficiaries may be,” presidential spokesman Gerba Shehu said in a statement.
The ‘RevolutionNow’ Saturday became a subject of discussion in Nigeria when operatives of the Department of Security Services (DSS) arrested Sahara Reporters publisher Omoyele Sowore at his Lagos residence.
Sowore, presidential candidate of African Action Congress (AAC) in the 2019 general election spearheaded the #RevolutionNow movement, with a plan to hold protests in most Nigerian states on Monday, August 5.
Nigeria’s police inspector general Mohammed Adamu Saturday warned citizens to stay clear of the protest in their own interest. He accused the organisers of the protest of plotting to force a regime change in the country.
Adamu declared that anyone participating in the protest will be treated as terrorists and enemies of the country, a sentiment shared by the Presidency.
Shehu asserted that Nigerians elected President Muhammadu Buhari into office, thus, the action by the protest organisers was aimed at inciting a revolution in government.
He stated that the government respects and uphold the right of every Nigerian to peaceful protest and civil campaign to raise awareness on issues and even oppose the government.
“There is, however, a difference between peaceful call to protest and incitement for a revolution,” Shehu said. The ballot box is the only constitutional means of changing government and a president in Nigeria. The days of coups and revolutions are over.”