• CBN places ‘post no debit’ restriction on pharmacist’s account
• Lawyer accuses Nigeria Immigration Service of stopping her trip abroad
• Federal Government’s panel gets 160 petitions, begins sitting today
By Eniola Akinkuotu and Adelani Adepegba
There were strong indications on Tuesday that the Federal Government had begun a clampdown on promoters of #EndSARS protests by freezing their bank accounts.
Some #EndSARS promoters, who spoke separately to The PUNCH, said their banks informed them that the Central Bank of Nigeria had directed that their accounts should be frozen.
Last months, youths calling for the disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police protested for two weeks in major cities of the country.
On Tuesday, some promoters of the protests said their accounts had been frozen for the past two weeks.
The CBN, according to multiple complaints received by The PUNCH, reportedly instructed banks to place a ‘Post No Debit’ restriction on the accounts.
The banks, it was learnt, were able to implement the directive by tracking the ‘narration’ of transactions.
Bank transactions that included the narration #EndSARS or End SARS were immediately flagged while such accounts receiving funds were frozen.
Speaking to The PUNCH, a pharmacist, Bassey Israel, who was in charge of the #EndSARS medical team in Port Harcourt, said his account with Access Bank marked 003397XXXX had remained frozen since October 15.
According to him, when he learnt of the development, he went to the bank to find out the reason for it. Israel said he was informed by a bank officer that the directive came from the apex bank.
He said, “I am in charge of End SARS medical team in Port Harcourt and we had people donating for medical supplies, food, water, ambulance services and these donations were made directly into my account and of course these donations had End SARS descriptions so I think that was how they were able to flag my account. I noticed that on October 15, I was trying to make a debit transaction on my account and noticed that there was a restriction.
“So, I called the bank and I was told that there was indeed a restriction but I should go to any branch near me and when I did so, the branch manager sent a mail to the branch where I opened the account. The response to the mail was that there was a directive from the CBN to restrict the account.
“The lady was surprised and even asked me if I had any issue with the CBN and I responded that if I had any issue with the CBN, I wouldn’t be in the bank in the first place, I would be on the run. I asked what could be done and she gave me no answer. She had to show me the mail on her computer which I read. It was directly from the CBN and it read, ‘Place this account on PND.”
When asked if others had similar problems, Israel said, “I know many persons that have this same challenge.”
Israel said the money in the frozen account was a substantial sum.
Another #EndSARS protester told one of our correspondents that she had not been able to access her account and had been informed that it was frozen.
She, however, wished to remain anonymous for fear of being victimised by the government.
One of the promoters of the #EndSARS movement, Feyikemi Abudu, also confirmed in a tweet that the accounts of several persons involved in the protests had been frozen.
The acting Spokesman for the CBN, Abdulmumin Isa, who was first contacted last week on the telephone, asked the correspondent to give him some time.
However, after one week of waiting, Isa had yet to provide any information on the matter.
The Spokesman for Access Bank, Abdul Imoyo, said he could not make comments on individual accounts of customers for confidentiality reasons.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Immigration Service on Monday prevented a promoter of the #EndSARS movement, Modupe Odele, from travelling.
Although the NIS officers did not disclose the reason for their action, it is believed that the action was taken because of her alleged role in the #EndSARS protests.
Odele, had through her Twitter handle, @Mochievous, mobilised her 219,000 followers during the protests.
She had also ensured that free legal aid was given to persons who were unjustly arrested during the demonstrations.
Confirming the development in a newsletter sent out on Monday, the lawyer said she was on her way to the Maldives to celebrate her birthday when she was accosted by immigration officers.
She wrote, “For my birthday, I had planned a trip to the Maldives. It was really for a break as the events of the last three weeks have exhausted my mind and body in a way I have never been exhausted in my life.
“I went to the airport, passed through immigration, and while I was putting my bags through the body and baggage scanner, the immigration officer who had previously cleared me, called me back. He told me he had orders from above to detain me.
“Okay, at this point I’m like excuse me, my flight is in an hour. On what grounds are you detaining me?” He didn’t respond. Instead, he goes to his computer where he typed in my name, and something that looked like a ‘wanted poster’ popped up on the portal.
“He blocked my view so I couldn’t see most of it but I saw some of it. And it read something like – ‘This person is under investigation by XYZ Intelligence Agency. If seen, they should be apprehended on sight.’”
Odele said she was detained while her passport was seized by the officers and she was made to miss her flight.
The Spokesman for the NIS, Sunday James, said he did not have any information on the matter but promised to find out.
There were reports that the Federal Government had begun going after notable persons in the #EndSARS protests and had placed some of them on a ‘no fly list.’
However, the Federal Ministry of Interior denied the allegation, saying it did not generate any ‘no fly list.”
Buhari displaying traits of a dictator – #EndSARS protesters
Reacting to the reported freezing of bank accounts belonging to supporters of the campaign, the #EndSARS protesters said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), was simply displaying the traits of a dictator.
A member of the group, Dayo Ariyo-Atoye, in an interview with The PUNCH, said it was unfortunate that Buhari’s regime would take extrajudicial measures to curtail the #EndSARS campaign.
He stated, “What we have seen is worrisome and totally condemnable and unfortunate. It is not impossible that this government can take an illegal measure to curtail the #EndSARS campaign, especially now that the northern irredentists are calling for a crackdown on social media and free speech.
“So, it is not unexpected that this government can do it. As a military head of state, General Buhari did it. As a civilian, he is also showing the same traits of military dictatorship.”
On what the #EndSARS movement would do, Ariyo-Atoye said his group would request foreign governments to repatriate the families of all government officials living abroad.
“If the government has compiled names of protesters to stop them from leaving the country in violation of their rights, we may compile the names of their family members in foreign countries and seek visa ban for the leaders. We would write to the foreign governments to repatriate their family members living abroad,” he stated.
Violence that rocked #EndSARS protests across the country worsened on Tuesday with 43 protesters and six policemen losing their lives.
Protesters calling for the disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police have been carrying out peaceful demonstrations across the country since October 8.
However, the protests assumed a violent dimension last week when thugs attacked peaceful protesters in Lagos and Abuja.
The hoodlums, who have been attacking protesters in Abuja, became emboldened on Tuesday, when they killed six protesters at Waru, Wumba and Kubuwa
27 protesters, two policemen killed in Lagos
In Lagos alone, no fewer than 29 people, including two policemen, were killed when the police shot protesters in different parts of the state.
In Mushin, 17 people lost their lives during a clash involving hoodlums and policemen attached to the Olosan Division.
The PUNCH gathered that the hoodlums, who reportedly barricaded the Oduwoye Junction in Mushin, denied the Divisional Police Officer, Olosan Division and some policemen, access to the route to a destination in the area.
In the process, it was learnt that there was a confrontation between the hoodlums and the policemen who reportedly retreated to their base.
However, tragedy struck when the policemen, reportedly led by the DPO, reinforced to the Oduwoye Junction and started releasing bullets into the air to scare away the hoodlums.
An eyewitness, who gave his name simply as Ashimiu, said when the hoodlums refused to leave the road, in a bid to disperse them, the policemen allegedly released some bullets into the crowd, adding that no fewer than 17 people had been reported dead.
He said, “People were at Oduwoye Junction in Mushin around 12.30pm and blocked the road but when the DPO of the Olosan Police Station and his team wanted to drive through the blocked route, they were denied access. This, however, led to confrontation, so they went back to their base.
“A few minutes after, the policemen, led by the DPO, reinforced to the blocked location and started shooting in the air to scare them away from the road. But when they realised that the people were unmoved, they released bullets into the crowd and more than 17 people were killed. Many people also sustained grievous bullet wounds, some of whom were rushed to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital.
“I have personally seen seven corpses; three corpses at Atewolara Junction, two corpses at Way Street, opposite Oando Filing Station, and two corpses at Oduwoye Junction, opposite the market. Soldiers are in the area to douse the tension and some of the corpses were evacuated by them, while some other corpses were taken away by the families of the victims.”
Two policemen, three protesters killed as hoodlums burn police stations in Lagos
Five persons, including two policemen and three #EndSARS protesters, were also killed during a clash involving policemen attached to Orile Police Division and some protesters in the Orile area of the state.
The PUNCH gathered that the protesters were chanting #EndSARS at the station when the DPO, Orile Division and her policemen allegedly opened fire at the protesters, killing three persons in the process.
Enraged by the development, it was learnt that a clash occurred between the protesters, including hoodlums, and policemen attached to the division and during the attack, the Orile Police Station was set ablaze.
One Bolaji, who witnessed the incident, accused the police of pulling the trigger that killed three of the protesters, adding that two stations were burnt due to the incident.
He said, “Around 9am, when the protesters got to the Orile Police Station, they were chanting #EndSARS and that they don’t want the Divisional Police Officer, popularly known as Iya Rainbow, to head the station again. There was a confrontation between the DPO and the people at the station.
“Annoyed by the development, the people clashed with the policemen and they went to get petrol and set the station ablaze. When the people at Pako area got to know that someone has been shot dead at Orile, it propelled them to burn the station at Pako. The military personnel have brought normalcy in the area. I witnessed everything when the police opened fire, the people dispersed and it was that opportunity that the DPO used in escaping.”
It was learnt that while three protesters were shot head by the police, two policemen died in a reprisal.
However, one Ugo Njoku, who chronicled the Orile attack on Whatsapp, gave the total number of deaths recorded to be five, adding that “DPO ordered police officers to shoot directly at the protesters. Three people fall dead while several others sustained injuries and are rushed to hospital…The two officers killed are the trigger-happy policemen that shot at the protesters.”
Blackout in Lekki tollgate as soldiers shoot seven protesters dead, many injured
In another development in the Lekki area of the state, armed soldiers allegedly shot sporadically at the #EndSARS protesters, killing no fewer than seven persons in the process.
Many protesters were said to have sustained bullet wounds as a result of the attack that suddenly came just after the billboard on the tollgate and the streetlights around the premises were switched off. It was learnt that the CCTV was also disconnected.
A video recorded by an eyewitness, which was reposted on Instablog9ja, indicated that seven protesters were killed during the attack.
“They have killed more than seven people that I have seen with my eyes. They were killed with real bullets and not even rubber bullets,” the recorder of the footage said.
Prior to the blackout, it was learnt that two soldiers were at the tollgate from the Lekki axis to pledge their support for the protest by the #EndSARS campaigners.
Few minutes after the soldiers came, it was learnt that there was a sudden blackout as a group of armed soldiers advancing from the Ozumba Mbadiwe axis started shooting sporadically into the air and at the protesters.
An eyewitness, Yekini Adedeji, said all the protesters around the tollgate scampered for safety, adding that the soldiers had taken over the premises.
“The soldiers are shooting sporadically, they put off the street light and the billboard to make the place to be in total darkness. They started shooting up but they shot at the protesters as well and I have seen two people that have sustained bullet wounds.
“At first, when the soldiers started shooting, the protesters summoned courage and refused to move. So, they sat on the floor and raised up their flag but along the line, two of the protesters were shot and people started running. There are no protesters at the tollgate and the soldiers have taken over the tollgate. I saw the soldiers myself
Two killed, many injured as hoodlums clash in Ketu
In another development, two people were killed during a clash involving Ikosi Boys and Market Boys in the Ketu area of Lagos State on Monday.
As at 8am on Tuesday, The PUNCH saw the hoodlums attacking one another with bottles, stones and other harmful objects around the pedestrian bridge, close to the police station in Ketu.
Motorists and commuters were stranded as vehicular movements were on hold due to the crisis that reportedly started on Monday evening.
It was gathered that the boys were protesting when an altercation reportedly broke out amongst them around 6pm.
The altercation was said to have degenerated into a crisis that sent shivers down the spines of residents and business owners in the area.
Footage of a video trending online showed three victims lying on the street in a pool of their blood.
As seen in the footage, the skull of two of the victims had been broken as their brains were scattered on the street. One of the victims was also seen gasping for breath due to the injuries he sustained during the clash.
People were also seen in the footage lamenting and mourning the circumstances surrounding the death of the victims.
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi said, “A fight happened in Ketu but we are not aware that there was any mortality. No death was known to the police.”
Six killed, many injured as hoodlums clash Ikorodu
In another development, no fewer than six persons were killed in the Ogolonto and Garage area of Ikorodu, Lagos.
In Ogolonto, it was learnt that the clash happened after a member of the National Union of Road Transport Worker, purchased a piece of land and settled the wrong people.
An eyewitness, who identified himself simply as Adesegun, said during the fight, the boys burgled peoples’ shops, stopped a truck loaded with bottles, which they used in attacking themselves.
He said, “Ogolonto Boys and Idiroko Boys were involved in the clash, and what happened was that one of the leaders of the NURTW Ikorodu settled some people with N2m after purchasing land and made the announcement during the protest. That was when the fight started and about three people were killed on Saturday but the fight started on Friday. The fight was amongst the union members but it turned into a street fight and lots of people were injured.”
It was gathered that three people died in the incident.
In a similar development, three persons were killed during another clash involving hoodlums and cultists in the Garage and Benson areas of Ikorodu.
An eyewitness, Biodun Agbabiaka, said, “On Tuesday, some people had to volunteer themselves to be on the lookout for people robbing members of the public of their valuables after the protest and that was how it turned into a territorial clash, involving cult members.
“As I speak to you, two persons were killed at Garage and one person was killed at Benson and the protesters are not among those that were killed.”
Many policemen have been killed – Lagos Police PRO
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, said “It is quite unfortunate that most of our formations have been attacked, our men have been attacked and as I speak with you, many of our men have been killed but I cannot give a precise account of those that have been killed now.
“Most of our formations have been set ablaze and some of our properties destroyed. Two patrol vehicles have been burnt in Ojo Division, Ilemba Hausa is under siege as I speak with you, Amukoko and Orile Divisions are burnt, Cele outpost under Ajegunle has been burnt, Ajeromi Ifelodun Secretariat has been burnt and we are still hearing that they still want to attack policemen going about their lawful duties.”
Two policemen, three others feared killed in Oyo
Hoodlums cashed in on the #EndsSARS protest in the Ojoo area of Ibadan on Tuesday and burnt down the police station in the area.
Our correspondents learnt that five persons, including two policemen, were killed during the attack which happened at 1pm.
The police also confirmed that some of its AK-47 rifles were stolen by the hoodlums, who invaded the place and burnt it down.
One of our correspondents, who visited the scene of the incident at 6:30pm observed that the police station and three vehicles were completely razed down.
Trouble started in the morning as early as 9am when some of the youths blocked the Ojoo end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. The barricade caused gridlock forcing some motorists to turn back to seek alternative routes while those who could not use this got stuck on the road.
The Commissioner of Police in Oyo State, Joe Enwonwu, confirmed the killing of two policemen and said two were missing in a statement issued by the Police a Public Relations Officer, Mr Olugbenga Fadeyi.
Hoodlums kill Ogun customs officer
In Ogun State, hoodlums, who hijacked the protest on Tuesday killed an officer of the Nigeria Customs Service, Ogun Area Command I , and injured another during an attack on Customs men along Owode-Idiroko road in Ogun State.
The PUNCH gathered that residents of the border communities seized the opportunity of the ongoing protest to demand an end to the incessant killings by operatives of the NSC.
An eyewitness said the youth invaded the patrol base and attacked the NCS officers, with sticks, and dangerous weapons, killing one and injuring another.
The Public Relations Officer of the Command, Hammed Oloyede confirmed the incident in an interview with one of our correspondents.
Hoodlums kill four in Kano
In Sabon Gari area of the Kano metropolis, eyewitnesses said four people were killed when hoodlums attacked #EndSARS protesters.
A security guard at one of the motor spare parts shops at France Road in Sabon Gari told The PUNCH that the protest which started peacefully at noon, turned violent when some hoodlums attacked the protesters.
The security guard said, “The protest was initially peaceful, but when the hoodlums came they killed four people and injured many others.”
It was also gathered that the hoodlums looted shops and burnt a car on the Aba road, off Ibo road in Sabon Gari.
Also, the hoodlums invaded St Thomas’ Catholic Church, on Airport road, ransacked and broke the glass windows.
The police said they were not aware of any killing. At a press conference later on Tuesday, the state Police Commissioner Mr Habu Sani, confirmed that no fewer than seven vehicles were burnt.
He, however, said that the situation had since been brought under control.
Two killed in Benin
In Edo State, youths and hoodlums in Benin defied the 24-hour curfew imposed by the state government and clashed with policemen.
During a clash at Santana Market on the Sapele Road, two people were shot dead by the police trying to disperse protesters.
Despite the curfew, youths took over strategic positions on the Ekenwan Road chanting anti-government slogans.
There were protests also in Auchi as youths regrouped at the popular Jattu Junction, allowing only motorists on essential duties passage.
Hoodlums killed two police officers in Abia – PPRO
As of the time of sending this report, the situation in Aba, the Abia State capital was still tense.
Angry youths attacked and set ablaze a police station located along Umuoba road axis of Ogbor Hill.
Also attacked was another police station; Eziama Police Division located near the popular Bata junction along Aba-Ikot Ekpene Expressway.
When contacted the state Public Relations Officer, PPRO Geoffrey Ogbonna said at Aba, two police officers were killed on Tuesday. He said that he was not aware of the killing of any protester.
The protests in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, became violent when policemen at SARS office shot live bullets while youths were protesting.
Hundreds of youths, who had taken the protest to the disbanded SARS office, expressed dismay that police operatives were still there despite the disbandment of the outfit.
Although, the youth retreated due to the indiscriminate shooting to scare them, they continued chorusing ‘End SARS, END SARS until they were advised by their leaders to leave the area.
When contacted, the State Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mukan, said the office was not operational but that policemen were only deployed there to protect the facility from being attacked following what was going on in other parts of the country.
Armed thugs in ‘government vehicles’ attack #EndSARS protesters
In Abuja, armed thugs conveyed in what appeared to be black government Sports Utility Vehicles with concealed number plates were seen attacking #EndSARS protesters in the Wuse 2 area of Abuja on Tuesday.
In a video that has gone viral on social media, some of the thugs are seen jumping into a black Prado driven by a man in suit on Adetokunbo Ademola Crescent Wuse 2.
The vehicle is seen reversing unto Hospital Avenue and then the doors are flung open while thugs wielding stones and sticks run riot.
Another vehicle, which is a black Range Rover, soon joins the thugs while four buses filled with thugs parked on the roadside as more thugs alight from the buses.
There were unconfirmed reports that the thugs were coordinated by an official of the Department of State Services attached to a top government official.
However, the DSS in a statement by its Spokesman, Peter Afunaya, denied the allegation, adding that the agency could not identify any of the persons in the videos.
Afunaya asked members of the public to ignore such rumours as the agency could not engage in such a dishonourable act.
IG deploys riot policemen nationwide as violence escalates
Meanwhile, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, on Tuesday, ordered the deployment of riot policemen nationwide to protect lives and property.
The IG also deployed operatives to strengthen the security around custodial facilities nationwide.
The IG in his directive ordered the commissioners of police in the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT to identify and isolate law-breakers from peaceful protesters, and immediately arrest and diligently prosecute such perpetrators of violence in their respective commands.
The force spokesman, Frank Mba, in a statement titled, ‘Attacks on police facilities, others: IG orders deployment of anti-riot police officers,’ also disclosed that 12 suspects had been arrested in connection with the attack on two custodial facilities and a police station in Edo State, on Monday.
Five rifles allegedly stolen from the police station were also recovered.
It enjoined the members of the public to avail the force with useful information that can lead to the re-arrest of the fleeing inmates, unlawfully released from the correctional facilities.
Giving an update on the attack by hoodlums at Apo, Abuja, on Monday, in which 15 vehicles were torched and 14 others vandalised, and the second wave of violence at Waru and Wumba communities on Tuesday, the FCT police spokesperson, ASP Mariam Yusuf, said the command had restored calm in the areas.
Eyewitnesses said two people were killed each in Waru, Wumba and Kubuwa.
NBA, AfBA threaten international criminal proceedings
The Nigerian Bar Association and Africa Bar Association have threatened international criminal proceedings against the Federal Government over the shooting of unarmed protesters by security agencies.
The NBA, in a statement by its President, Olumide Akpata, described the shooting of the unarmed protesters are reckless and lawless, while demanding that the military high command “immediately identify and name the officers involved in this gross professional misconduct for immediate prosecution and dismissal in line with extant laws.”
In the same vein, the AfBA, in a statement by its President, Hannibal Uwaifo, vowed to “immediately file formal criminal complaints before appropriate international bodies to open an international inquiry into the irresponsible behaviour of the Nigerian Government masquerading as a democracy.” (Punch)
Following directives by President Muhammadu Buhari on dissolution of Special Anti-Robbery Squad and immediate response to yearnings of citizens, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, convened a meeting with stakeholders, agreeing to meet demands, which include halting use of force against protesters and unconditional release of arrested citizens.
The meeting, organized by the Office of the Inspector General of Police and National Human Rights Commission, was a multi-stakeholders’ forum attended by leaders and representatives of civil society organisations in Nigeria, activists from the entertainment industry and the ENDSARS movement and development partners.
The Ministry of Police Affairs and Police Service Commission were also present at the meeting that affirmed that the five-point demands of the protesters and the ENDSARS movement are genuine concerns and will be addressed by the Government.
A communiqué of Stakeholders’ Meeting on the Implementation of the Recommendations of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) said:
“Following the public protests regarding various forms of human rights violations by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and the consequent disbandment of the unit by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, there arose the need for stakeholder engagement to build trust and restore public confidence in law enforcement.
“The agitations also brought to the fore, the need to implement the recommendations of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
“The Forum was addressed by the Inspector General of Police and the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission.
“The Forum collectively: welcomed the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu; Reaffirmed the constitutional rights of Nigerians to peaceful assembly and protest; Further affirmed the sanctity of life of every Nigerian and the role of the Police in protecting this right; Affirms that the five-point demands of the protesters and the ENDSARS movement are genuine concerns and will be addressed by the Government.’’
According to the communiqué signed by the Inspector General of Police and Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu, Esq, the Forum noted that the dissolution of SARS presents an opportunity to embark on comprehensive reforms aimed at repositioning the Nigerian Police Force as a modern, responsive and citizens-centred law enforcement organisation.
“The Forum further notes that the proposed reforms should be anchored under the basis of the White Paper on the Report of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad which was jointly authored by the National Human Rights Commission, the Federal Ministry of Justice, and the Nigeria Police Force.
“The Forum affirms that reform proposals for the Nigerian Police Force will be based on Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and existing legislations such as the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Act, 2019, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 the Anti-Torture Act, 2017, and the National Human Rights Commission Act, 2010 amongst others.
“Following the dissolution of SARS, the Forum calls for the following immediate steps to be taken in restoring public confidence and trust in the Police: An order by the Inspector General of Police to all State Commands to halt the use of force against protesters; Unconditional release of arrested protesters and citizens; Open communication and outreach to citizens to establish trust and confidence and a roadmap for the implementation of the White Paper of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the SARS.
“The Forum welcomed the proposal to set up an Independent Investigation Panel to look into the violations of human rights by the defunct SARS and other segments of the Nigerian Police. The Forum agrees to the setting up of this Independent Panel by the National Human Rights Commission within the next one week. An open call for Memoranda from members of the public whose rights have been violated by the defunct SARS and other segments of the Police will be released by the Commission within one week.
“The Forum recommends the psychological evaluation, training and retraining of disbanded SARS officials prior to re-deployment. The Forum resolves to set up the following Technical Sub-Committees to design an implementation roadmap and work plan for the implementation of the White Paper: Training, Capacity and Re-orientation; Logistics: Infrastructure, Communications and Technology; Arrest, Detention, and Investigations; Regulations, Oversight and Accountability and Financing and Partnerships.’’
The communiqué stated that sub-Committees will be supported by the National Human Rights Commission and other civil society organisations.
Those who attended the meeting are: Dr Kole Shettima- MAC Arthur Foundation; Innocent Chukwuma – Ford Foundation; Jude Ilo- of OSIWA; Segun Awosanya(segalinks) – End Sars Movement; Yemi Adamolekun- Enough is Enough; Clément Nwankwo- PLAC; Rafsanjani- CISLAC; Kemi Okonyedo- PWAN; YZ – CITAD; Folarin Falana Falz; Prof Deji Adekunle –NIALS; Chris Ngwodo, SSA to President Research & Policy; Dr Fatima Waziri – Rule of Law Adviser OVP and Abdulrahman Yakubu – NHRC Secretariat.
Others are: Hilary Ogbonna- NHRC secretariat; Halilu Adamu – NHRC Secretariat; Ben Aguh – NHRC secretariat; Dr Uju Agomuoh – PRAWA and Onyinye Ndubuisi – UNDP.
Femi Adesina Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity) October 13, 2020
There was drama of epic phenomenon as the personel of the Department of State Security, DSS attempted to rearrest the convener of Revolutionnow and the CEO of Sahara Reporters, who was also the presidential candidate for AAC in the last presidential election, Mr Omoyele Sowore at Abuja High Court today.
The drama has been given much thoughts by Nigerians on what has become the weight of the decisions by the Judiciary, and the power of the executive to use state appartuses to harrass civilians in contravention to court decisions.
Sowore was being dragged by the officials of the DSS while his lawyers and supporters of Revolutionnow opposed with strong resistence the re-arrest attempt by the DSS officers.
Sowore in his words called the action of the DSS, ‘ an assasination attempt on his life before the High Court judge. It was alleged also that the Judge was chased by the DSS officials while she took to her heels and lost her wig, and her shoes in the process. He was at the ended rearrested and taken back into DSS detention and he will be dragged back to court for bail once again.
This is what has become of the judiciary under the leadership of Muhammadu Buhari where he has led the fight to show that the judges, the court are not to be respected, which has led to this sort of behaviour inside a court room.
Many Nigerians expressed shock at the manner the Judge and Sowore were treated in the courtroom today. The issue is very serious that the Judge had to run away to save her life and lost her wig and shoes along the way.
Clearly, the DSS has been made an apparatus to be used to harrass, disobey the court and do whatever they are directed from above to done to anyone anywhere and anytime. The court is no more respected and so are the judges and their orders and decsions.
The president candidate of the strongest opposition party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has condemn the action by the DSS in what he called the desecration of the sanctity of the courtroom.
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Davidson Iriekpen, Gboyega Akinsanmi in Lagos, Chuks Okocha and Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
The federal government came under more attacks yesterday over the arrest of the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore, as Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, described the detention of the activist-turned politician as reminiscent of the oppressive regime of the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha.
Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), also lampooned the government and faulted the argument of security agencies that the call for revolution by Sowore amounted to treason.
Abacha came to power in November 1993 in the wake of the agitation for the revalidation of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election results after sacking the Interim National Government headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan.
He unleashed brutality against the people, arresting and killing protesters and opponents of his regime. Some of the critics of his dictatorship, including former Head of State then, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo; former Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters, Maj.-Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, human rights activists, Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti and Chief Gani Fawehinmi, among others, were roped in in contrived coup plot and sentenced to various jail terms.
Soyinka, in a statement yesterday, said Sowore did nothing to suggest he was “urging the public to engage in a forcible overthrow of government” as explained by the police.
Sowore is the convener of ‘#RevolutionNow’ protests, which has been scheduled to hold nationwide today.
He was, however, arrested by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) at his Lagos residence in the early hours of Saturday.
The Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mohammed Adamu, also tagged the planned protests an act of treason and terrorism, whose sole aim is to “force a regime change in the country.”
However, the DSS, which confirmed Sowore’s arrest yesterday, defended its action, saying the activist was taken into custody for calling for a revolution in Nigeria.
On his part, Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, yesterday warned that the state government would not tolerate any protest just as he ordered security agents to arrest anyone found taking part in today’s planned protest.
But Soyinka deplored the arrest, describing it as a “travesty” and violation of the fundamental rights of citizens to congregate and make public their concerns.
According to him, protests are democratic ways of drawing government’s attention to ills and mobilising the public towards a proactive consciousness of their condition.
He said the arrest, incarceration and threats to civilians involved in such cause were “ultimately counter-productive.”
“Beyond the word ‘revolution, another much mis-used and misunderstood word, nothing that Sowore has uttered, written, or advocated suggests that he is embarking on, or urging the public to engage in a forceful overthrow of government.
“I, therefore, find the reasons given by the Inspector-General, for the arrest and detention of this young ex-presidential candidate totally contrived and untenable, unsupported by any shred of evidence.
“This is all so sadly déjà vu. How often must we go through this wearisome cycle? We underwent identical cynical contrivances under the late, unlamented Sani Abacha, when he sent storm-troopers to disrupt a planning session for a similar across-nation march at Tai Solarin’s Mayflower School, Ikenne.
“The same pattern Pavlovian conduct manifested itself under yet another supposed democratic ruler who personally declared that the gathering of civilians to deliberate on, and propose a constitution for the nation was ‘high treason’. And yet again, even a faceless cabal under yet another civilian regime refused to be left out of the insensate play of power.
“Freedom is not so glibly qualified. It cannot be doled out like slops of charity from soup kitchens. “Let the police stick to their task of protecting and managing protests, not attempt to place their own meaning and declaration of intent on bogey words like – revolution!,” the laureate said.
Soyinka urged the Inspector General to wade through the daily journals of the past few weeks and months, read and digest the calls by numerous sectors of society – across professions and national groupings – for demonstrations against the parlous conditions of society, all identifying ills to which attention must be drawn, and urgently, through mass action.
According to him, demonstrations and processions are time honoured, democratic ways of drawing not only the attention of government to ills, but of mobilising the public towards a proactive consciousness of their condition, and thereby exhorting civil society also to devise means of ameliorating their condition through their own efforts.
“Religious bodies have urged such remedies, so have civic associations. The ready recourse to arrests, incarceration and threats to civilians are ultimately counter-productive. They alienate the citizens, erode their confidence in governance responsiveness, and thereby advance the very extremist nightmare that security agencies believe they are acting to thwart.
“If we cannot learn from the histories and experiences of other societies, let us at least learn from ours. Freedom is not so glibly qualified. It cannot be doled out like slops of charity from soup kitchens. Let the police stick to their task of protecting and managing protests, not attempt to place their own meaning and declaration of intent on bogey words like – revolution,” he added.
However, the presidency described Soyinka’s statement as an unpardonable blackmail that would not deter the police and law enforcement agents from doing their work.
Reacting to the criticism of Soyinka, following THISDAY inquiry, a presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, said renowned critics like Soyinka who often accuse the police of dereliction of duty when there is a breach of law and order are also the ones castigating law enforcement agents in their current moves to protect the law.
He described the accusation that the president is autocratic as an unpardonable blackmail, saying that Nigerians can only call for a change of government in accordance with constitutional stipulations.
According to him, calls for violent change of a democratically elected government is unacceptable in a setting where the guidelines for change of government have clearly been spelt out in the constitution.
He said: “You mentioned the name of Professor Wole Soyinka. Some of these critics of government are people whom we have great respect and admiration for. When things are going wrongly with law and order in the country, they say the police are not doing their work. They raise their voices, asking that “the culprits to be booked and expeditiously punished in the most severe manner.
“The police under a new leadership is now rising to the occasion, saying ‘we cannot take any more atrocities against the law in our country and they are saying don’t do anything. They are calling out President Buhari and comparing him to autocratic leaders.’ This is an unpardonable blackmail that cannot stop the police and other law enforcement agencies from doing their work.
“A Nigerian is by right empowered to call for a change of government using constitutional means; to protest peacefully against government policies and decisions. But to call for the violent overthrow of a democratically elected government and president and worse – were those calling for it to attempt to do so – is not acceptable under any law in Nigeria. Violence will never be accepted again as a way to change governments in this country. Those days are gone.
“Nigeria has a well-crafted constitution and elaborate laws governing elections that guide an orderly succession in government. We have a judicial system that actively serves as a watchdog of the people’s rights.
“Yet, we are daily witnesses to obscene display of delight in the killing of our soldiers and policemen, an open contempt for the country’s laws and its people, accompanied by loud cheers from the so-called New Media. Is this the way to grow a country?”
Protests Not Treasonable Offence, Says Falana
In his reaction, Falana, in a statement yesterday, said protest marches in Nigeria were not treasonable offences.
According to him, the police have capitalised on the use of the word “revolution” to criminalise the protests.
He said: “No doubt, the Nigeria Police Force has capitalised on the use of the word “revolution” to criminalise the protests. If revolution has become a criminal offence in Nigeria, why were the leaders of the APC not charged for claiming to have carried out Nigeria’s democratic revolution, which terminated the 16-year rule of the PDP in 2015?
“Why was Dr. Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu, the presidential candidate of the Young Progressive Party (YPP) not threatened with treason when he asked Nigerians to rise up for revolution via the 2019 general election?
“Did all Nigerian senators led by APC members not commit treason or terrorism when they spent one-and-a-half hours on May 14, 2019 to debate Senator Chukwuka Utazi’s timely motion on “Bridging the gap between the haves and have-not to nip in the bud the seeds of a looming violent revolution?”
Falana also criticised the Buhari administration for clamping down on individuals perceived as its critics.
“It is worrisome that the Buhari administration has decided to extend the ambit of the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Act to cover individuals and organisations that are critical of official policies or perceived marginalisation within the federation,” he added.
DSS: Sowore in Custody for Calling for Revolution
Amid the criticisms, the DSS yesterday defended its arrest of Sowore, saying he was taken into custody because he called for a revolution in Nigeria
“I want to start by saying; the Department of State Services is a responsible security and intelligence agency operating in Nigeria. And operating also in a democracy and it adheres strictly to the fundamental principles and tenets of democracy. The DSS as we are all aware is charged primarily with the detection and prevention of crimes and threats against the internal security of Nigeria and fundamentally more importantly, the service is also charged with the responsibility of managing, containing, curtailing, eliminating threats against the national security of Nigeria. These threats include: threats of sabotage, threats of subversion, threats of terrorism and of course, threats of espionage and all others, including ethnic agitations, economic sabotage and all of that,” DSS spokesperson, Mr. Peter Afunanya, said.
According to him, Nigeria is not a banana republic and anyone calling for revolution is only inciting others join in insurrection, insurgency and to forcibly take over the government.
But Afunanya was unable to say whether or not the DSS has any credible intelligence that confirmed Sowore has the capacity to execute a takeover of government.
He, however, said the DSS was “aware” that Sowore had been in touch with foreign actors to destabilise Nigeria.
The DSS declined to say where Sowore was being kept and when he would be arraigned in court.
Wike Orders Arrest of Protesters
Meanwhile, Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, has warned that the state will not tolerate any protest as fear rose yesterday over the planned #RevolutionNow, billed to begin today, and ordered security agents to arrest anyone found participating in the protest.
Wike said Rivers State was not part of the protest and whatever illegal agenda it sought to pursue.
“Rivers State does not subscribe to what the #RevolutionNow protest represents and Rivers State is not part of the protest,” he added.
He directed security agencies to arrest anybody involved in the #RevolutionNow protest and also take all necessary steps to prosecute such persons.
Police Ready for Protest as IG Puts CPs on the Alert
Also yesterday, the Police High Command said it was prepared for any eventuality that would arise from today’s planned revolution march.
As part of its preparations to handle the situation, the Inspector General of Police, Adamu Mohammed, has ordered Commissioners of Police in the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to maintain law and order in their areas of responsibility.
Force Public Relations Officer (PRO), Mr. Frank Mba, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), said the police nationwide were on red alert.
“Commissioners of Police nationwide are under strict and specific instruction to ensure the maintenance of law and order within their areas of responsibility,” he told THISDAY in a telephone interview.
Also, the FCT Police Commissioner, Bala Ciroma, said the command had put adequate measures in place to contain any breakdown of law and order.
“We have adequate security arrangement in place. Everybody should go about his lawful, normal businesses,” he said.
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