Police Arrest 30 as #RevolutionNow Protesters Defy Ban on Protest

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*Nabbed protesters to be arraigned in court Friday

*CP orders inspector to be detained for brutalising photojournalist

By Chiemelie Ezeobi

The Lagos State Police Command has arrested 30

protesters barely 12 hours after the state Commissioner of Police, CP Hakeem Odumosu, instructed officers and men of the command to disallow any rally or protests on October 1, a move countered by #RevolutionNow protesters as they hit the streets on Thursday.

Odumosu, who gave the charge during a security meeting with the area commanders, divisional police officers and head of units, had also warned parents and guardians to warn their children and wards to desist from holding rallies, protests or allow themselves to be mobilised to wage war against the government.

He further warned that contrary to that, such parents or guardians of any youths arrested for such act will be prosecuted.

Disregarding that warning, the protesters trooped into the streets of Lagos, demanding for a better society and an end to bad governance.

In response, police operatives who were deployed to maintain the peace arrested over 30 protesters, injuring some in the process.

The demonstration, which started at about 9am, saw the protesters converge on Ojota, from where they all marched to Maryland singing solidarity songs.

The protesters, dressed in orange and green colours were seen carrying placards and chanting expletives like Ole (thief) as they stormed Ojota and Maryland axis of the state.

When the protest was about to wrap them, the police swung into action and arrested some of the protesters, although this did not deter the rest from still protesting.

Earlier in a press statement where they called for nationwide protest to register their grouse against bad governance, Coalition for Revolution (CORE), the organisers of the #RevolutionNow protest, demanded the reversal of “anti-people policies implemented by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration”.

Led by former presidential candidate and Sahara Reporters Publisher, Omoyele Sowore, the group said: “These harsh policies that have bored a burdensome hole into the pockets of the Nigerian people are coming at a time when citizens are recovering from the adverse effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, a global health crisis that was also mismanaged by the Buhari’s government further plunging already struggling citizens into deeper financial problems.

“It also comes at a time when there is an unprecedented dictatorial-style crackdown on free speech, dissent, activism, journalism and the right to associate and congregate peacefully and protest.”

Also among the demands it made was for the reversal of the hike in the price of petrol, the sack of service chiefs and an end to “state-supervised and approved impunity under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari”.

Confirming the arrests, the PPRO Lagos Command, SP Muyiwa Adejobi, said those arrested were on the grounds of unlawful assembly and conduct likely to cause breach of public peace.

He said: “The Lagos State Police Command has arrested 30 protesters at various locations within the state for unlawful assembly, conduct likely to cause breach of public peace and other offences including violation of COVID-19 protocols/laws in Lagos State.

“The arrested individuals, who put on crested vests of #RevolutionNow with placards, will be charged to court on Friday, October 2.”

Reacting to the case of the injured photojournalist, Kayode Jaiyeola of PUNCH, whom a police officer broke his head with a baton, Adejobi said the suspect, one Inspector Adadu Innocent, has been detained and an orderly room trial in the offing.

He said: “The CP, who was monitoring the deployment and operational activities of officers and men of the command for the enforcement of the order against unlawful gathering and protest by some unpatriotic individuals, raced to the scene and personally moved the injured journalist to the Police Cottage (hospital) at Area F, GRA, Ikeja.

“He personally waited and ensured the injured journalist was given immediate and best medical treatment.

“The preliminary findings carried out by the Commissioner of Police and eye witness accounts from senior officers on ground, revealed that the cop suddenly attacked the journalist, without any previous altercation or confrontation.

“This propelled the Commissioner of Police to order for his trial in order to serve as deterrent to others who are fond of engaging in unprofessional and unethical conducts.”