A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, has warned that nothing must happen to #RevolutionNow activist, Omoyele Sowore.
The human rights lawyer said this after reports that Sowore was injured by a tear gas canister shot by a police officer during a rally in Abuja on Monday.
The police had since denied shooting Sowore, saying. “The protesters, who went on the rampage, were resisted by police operatives in order to prevent them from causing a breakdown of the law and order. There is no record of such an incident as of the time of this release.”
Reacting, Adegboruwa asked the international community to hold the government of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), responsible for anything that happens to Sowore.
The lawyer also noted that Sowore was exercising his fundamental rights by joining a rally to demand good governance and an end to insecurity.
Information reaching me indicates that early this morning in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Comrade Omoyele Sowore and other activists gathered at the Unity Fountain for a peaceful protest but they were denied access to the public facility which was cordoned off by the police. From the live Facebook video that I personally monitored, I saw Mr. Sowore engaging some policemen on the illegality of locking up the Unity Fountain. The conversation was civil and without any incident till the short video was terminated. I have however now been informed that shortly thereafter, some armed policemen stormed the Unity Fountain and released what appeared to be live bullets and tear gas into the crowd, with the consequent result that Mr. Sowore is presently in the hospital. It will be heartwarming to know that he has not been hit with any bullet from the alleged shooting.
I urge all Nigerians and indeed the international community to hold the government of President Muhammadu Buhari responsible for anything that befalls Mr. Sowore on account of the lawful exercise of his fundamental rights. The Unity Fountain is a public place, where other citizens have held protests in support of the Buhari administration in recent past, without let or hindrance and even with police escorts. In the period when President Muhammadu Buhari was leading the opposition politicians, he led several protests across the country, without anyone shooting at him or other protesters. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in its section 40 allows freedom of assembly and in section 39, it grants to every citizen freedom of expression. I urge the police authorities to accord full respect for the fundamental rights of all citizens without the usual provovations.
Mr. Sowore has been the target of criminal prosecution, on account of his non-violent campaign for good governance and accountability. In consequence, he has been restricted to the city of Abuja, outside his home and work place, away from his family and loved ones. I urge the government to allow Mr. Sowore be and not to deploy the instruments of state coercion against a single individual, all in the attempt to break and silence him.
The lesson of the EndSARS campaign is to get all law enforcement agencies to embrace universal rules of civil engagements in order to avoid the usual casualties that follow their intervention in civil interactions with citizens.
We cannot run a nation where everyone is held captive and hounded into compulsory silence. Consequently, I urge all protesters to remain peaceful and law abiding, while the government and its agents should follow the procedure of the rule of law in the maintenance of law and order.
Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN