Police and members of the #RevolutionNow Movement on Thursday were involved in heated brawls following a nationwide protest staged by the group.
The group mainly made up of young persons staged a protest in various states and at the Federal Capital Territory where they went to the United States Embassy expressing their disapproval of the nation’s security situation and the socio-economic crisis.
At the US Consulate in Abuja, they demanded the resignation of the President Muhammadu Buhari, arguing that the present administration has not effectively tackled the issues of insecurity, hunger, and corruption in the country.
Under the leadership of their convener, Omoyele Sowore, members of the movement wielded a big banner with the inscription, ‘Buhari has failed,’ and other placards which read, ‘Failed leadership has made Nigeria the poverty capital of the world,’ and ‘#RevolutionNow’.
Joining the protest in Abuja were #BringBackOurGirls activist, Aisha Yesufu, Ariyo Dare-Atoye, Henry Shield, Adebayo Raphael, Deji Adeyanju of Concerned Nigerians, among others.
Together, the protesters berated the government, claiming that the present administration has failed to live up to the promises made to Nigerians.
Police Inspector brutalize journalist, Commissioner reacts
While the protest in Abuja was seemingly hitch-free, the protest in Lagos was met with stiff opposition from the Nigerian Police force, resulting in the brutalization of a journalist.
Men of the police force are said to have attacked Mr. Olukayode Jaiyeola, a Punch photojournalist who was covering the protest stages within the Maryland area of the metropolis.
A police inspector, Mr. Innocent Adadu, used a baton on Jaiyeola’s head causing him to collapse immediately, with blood gushing out of his fractured skull.
Reacting to the development, the Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, ordered the immediate detention of the inspector who is attached to PMF 22 Ikeja.
The commissioner ordered that Inspector Adadu be tried in order to serve as a deterrent to others who are fond of engaging in unprofessional and unethical conduct.
Channels Television learned the commissioner rushed to the scene and personally moved the injured journalist to the Police Hospital.
While waiting to ensure that the injured journalist was given immediate and best medical treatment, the police boss cut-off all other engagements to stay throughout the journalist’s treatment and subsequent discharge.
Many injured, dozens arrested?
There are claims that beyond the case of the journalist who was severely beaten, many members of the Revolution Now Group who protested on Thursday were injured and dozens were arrested across the country.
In Lagos alone, there are reports suggesting that over 30 persons were arrested, a situation which has stirred another round of protests all over social media.
The reports from Ibadan, Osogbo, Taraba, Benue, Kano, and other states where the protest held, were all the same. Protesters were harassed by security operatives with many getting beat up while others were arrested.
Reacting to the situation, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in a series of tweets called on the international community and the United Nations Human Rights Office to publicly condemn what it termed ‘violations’.
SERAP also asked the international bodies to hold Nigerian authorities to account for systematic violations of human rights including the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
Earlier in the week, the Coalition for Revolution (CORE), the organisers of the #RevolutionNow protest announced plans to hold a mass action against poor governance in Nigeria.
According to CORE, the protest scheduled for October 1st was a demonstration to demand the reversal of “anti-people policies implemented by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.”
In its statement on the matter, CORE stated that “These harsh policies that have bored a burdensome hole into the pockets of the Nigerian people are coming at a time when citizens are recovering from the adverse effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, a global health crisis that was also mismanaged by the Buhari’s government further plunging already struggling citizens into deeper financial problems.
“It also comes at a time when there is an unprecedented dictatorial-style crackdown on free speech, dissent, activism, journalism, and the right to associate and congregate peacefully and protest.”
The group demanded amongst other things the reversal of the hike in the price of petrol from N148 to N151, an end to “state-supervised and approved impunity under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari” and the sacking of all service chiefs in the country due to their “proven incompetence in finding a lasting solution to the Boko Haram insurgency which has claimed and is still claiming the life of Nigerians daily.”
Following the cancellation of the Independence Day parade and a ban on gatherings of more than 50 persons by the Lagos State Government, the police had warned against people gathering in the state for protests and rallies.
However, the organisers of the #RevolutionNow protest insisted they will hold the mass action, a stand which led the police to storm the rally venues in a bid to disperse the gathering.
On August 5, 2019, the #RevolutionNow protest was first staged and the second edition on the same date this year, held across major cities in the country.
The rather peaceful demonstrations have been met with a clampdown by security operatives, resulting in arrests and incarceration of many protesters.