Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has demanded the immediate release of the leader of #RevolutionNow protesters, Mr. Omoyele Sowore.
It also asked security agencies to free other protesters arrested during the Monday protest.
The NLC, in a statement Wednesday by its General Secretary, Mr. Peter Ozo-Eson, said there was nowhere in the nation’s constitution or laws that the security agencies were empowered to brazenly attack peaceful protest and hound its organisers into detention.
It said peaceful protests against bad governance or perceived anti-people government policies was one of the critical fundamental rights towards the entrenchment and growth of democracy.
The statement said that Sowore’s continued detention by the Department of State Services (DSS) was unjust as his actions were not in any way threats to the sovereignty of Nigeria or the democratically constituted government of Nigeria.
“He was just one out of several Nigerians demanding good governance being the minimum demand citizens can make from a government they democratically elected. Mr. Sowore and other protesters were not carrying arms against the state and we therefore demand their immediate release unconditionally,” it said.
NLC said it viewed the violent attacks on protesters by security forces “as a total violation of the fundamental rights of not just the protesters but all Nigerian citizens as guaranteed by the constitution as well as various reported judgements of our courts.
“It is with deep consternation that we view the attacks and arrests of peaceful protesters in some parts of the country by security agencies and military personnel on Monday during a protest by some Nigerians in Lagos, Osogbo, Ibadan, Abuja and other cities.
“There is nowhere in our constitution or laws that the security agencies are empowered to so brazenly attack peaceful protests and hound its organisers into detention as the right to peaceful protests, assembly and association, is fully guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under sections 39 and 40.
“Besides, peaceful protests against bad governance or perceived anti-people government policies is one of the critical fundamental rights that expands the entrenchment and growth of democracy and our security agencies must not be allowed to continue to portray themselves as anti-democracy forces as the Monday attacks so clearly demonstrated,” it stated.
NLC is much more worrisome that soldiers were deployed to attack protesters, especially in Lagos, adding that “soldiers have no role whatsoever in the management of civil protest and they must be called to order by the federal government.”
“We also view the midnight arrest of one of the organisers of the protests, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, as an affront to his
fundamental rights as well as our collective rights to freedom of expression and association as enshrined in all the international and national instruments that strengthens democracy,” NLC added.