Journalism of Courage

Free Sowore protesters: Lethal weapons, pepper spray used to disperse Abuja sit-in



Scores of Free-Omoyele Sowore-protesters, who had massed near the precincts of the Department of State Services (DSS) headquarters office in Abuja on Tuesday were dispersed by operatives firing gunshots and spraying pepper.


The placarding participants in the sit-in who had conducted themselves peacefully were shocked when armed operatives swooped on them and sent them packing just at the verge of ending the protest.


According to a participant, truck loads of operatives with some of them masking, had arrived at the scene and gave the porters a chase.


“Some of the operatives brought out pistols and shot severally into the air to disperse the protesters.


“Another operative used pepper spray to force those who were seated to flee,’’ the source said, adding “many left their shoes and personal belongings.’’


Addressing reporters, Mr Deji Adeyanju, said the peaceful protest was aimed at registering their dismay at the refusal of the DSS to comply with court order granting Sowore bail which he had met.


His lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, said he was alarmed by the action of the DSS and had indicated to approach the court and institute a contempt charge against them.


Two Federal High Courts in Abuja had granted Sowore and his co-defendant, Bakare, bails and a variation of the bails which they had since fulfilled.


Sowore was arrested in Lagos early August and taken to custody in Abuja by the DSS over #RevolutionNow protest.


Meanwhile, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has condemned “violent attacks on peaceful protesters demanding the release of Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare as ordered by the court.”

In a statement today by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “We have seen a video footage apparently showing the use of lethal and excessive force by Nigerian security agents against peaceful protesters demanding the release of Sowore and Bakare as ordered by the court. We condemn the ruthless violence and shocking abuses against protesters.”

The statement read in part: “@UNHumanRights @UN_SPExperts @davidakaye should urgently respond to the rule of law and human rights crisis in Nigeria and call on the authorities to end this brutality. It is high time to ramp up monitoring on the situation in Nigeria and to send investigators to the country at once.”

“The use of lethal and excessive force violates the very core of Nigeria’s constitution and international human rights obligations. This should end immediately, and those responsible should be held to account.”

“Nigerian authorities should immediately obey ALL court orders and specifically the court order for the release of Sowore and Bakare from arbitrary detention.”


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