Police Barricade CDHR, Sahara Reporters’ Offices, Stop Protest

    Policemen from different formations of the Lagos State Police Command on Wednesday laid siege to the Ikeja, Lagos offices of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights and online news platform, Sahara Reporters.

    It was learnt that the officers, who were armed, arrived on the premises early to stop a protest against the detention of Omoyele Sowore, convener of the #RevolutionNow movement.
    Sowore, who has been in the custody of the Department of State Services for planning a protest, owns Sahara Reporters.
    Our correspondent gathered that the protest, which was scheduled for 10am, could not start as scheduled,  as policemen mounted guard at the CDHR secretariat and Sahara Reporters office.
    An official of the CDHR, who spoke to The PUNCH on condition of anonymity, said no fewer than seven police vehicles were on the premises as of 11am.
    He said, “They are still on ground now. I can count seven police vans as we speak marked Lagos State Security Trust Funds, Lagos State Task Force; patrol vans with policemen armed to the teeth.”
    The National Secretary of the CDHR, Olayinka Folarin, said the siege was unwarranted.
    He said, “The CDHR condemns the siege to our office today, led by the Nigeria Police Force and the military. This confirms our fear that there is no real democracy in Nigeria. The people were only trying to express their grievances and ask the government to release Omoyele Sowore, who has been incarcerated for months. It is unfortunate that the police and the military were sent to intimidate our people.”
    Rights group, Amnesty International, in a series of tweet on Wednesday, also condemned the siege, saying it was an attack on freedom of expression.
    “Amnesty International is concerned about the Nigeria   police siege to the editorial office of Sahara Reporters in Lagos. Reports of attempts to bar staff from accessing their office show clear attempt to undermine freedom of the press.
     “We call on the Nigerian authorities to desist from repressive steps that can undermine freedom of expression and of the press in Nigeria,” the group said.
    Members of the Coalition for Revolution (CORE), later went ahead with the protest.
    A co-convener of the group, Olaseni Ajayi, said the protest took place simultaneously in 28 countries over the collapse of civil liberties in Nigeria.
    He demanded the immediate release of all political prisoners, including Sowore, Agba Jalingo and Abayomi Olawale, aka Mandate.
    Ajayi said, “The police shut down Sahara Reporters office and that of the CDHR, thinking that we are going to start the protest from there. But we started the protest from another venue.
    “We are drawing attention to the collapse of civil liberties in Nigeria and demanding the immediate release of all political prisoners.
    “They were arrested and detained without trial. Nobody knows where Olawale is; the last time we saw him was with the DSS.”
    One of the protesters, Kunle Ajayi, said the demonstration was in the interest of Nigerians.
    He said, “They have turned Nigeria into a country of war, tyranny and dictatorship, where people are scared to talk and where you turn peaceful people to terrorists. Today, we decided to march no matter the time and period.
    “We only displayed our placards to demonstrate that the detention of Sowore is illegal and insensitive. But with what happened today, we have seen that it is not the masses that are violent; the major violence in Nigeria today has been exemplified by the Buhari government.”
    Another protester, Juwon Sanyaolu, urged the government to heed the demands of CORE.
    The state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Bala Elkana, however, said the deployment was to prevent breakdown of law and order in the state.
    “Our deployment is a normal crime prevention strategy so that there won’t be any breakdown of law and order in Lagos. We are not stopping anybody from exercising their rights; we didn’t invade any building and we did not block anybody’s office,” Elkana said.


    sharing is Caring... Please Share


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here