Security agencies, yesterday, made good their threat to foil the planned nationwide protest tagged: #RevolutionNow, organised by Global Coalition for Security and Democracy in Nigeria.
Reports from across the country revealed heavy deployment of security operatives. Heavily armed and drawn from all security outfits including anti-riot and civil defence officers, the military, National Civil security and Civil Defence Commission (NSCDC) and Department of State Security (DSS), were visible in all public arenas including stadia, apparently to foil any “illegal” gathering.
In Lagos, at least nine persons were arrested at National Stadium in Lagos after a crowd gathered for the #RevolutionNow, a series of planned protests against bad governance in Nigeria.
As early as 8 a.m., the protesters began to assemble at the stadium in Surulere but met armed police officers who fired teargas to force the protesters numbering about 50 into a hasty retreat. They later gathered under the stadium bridge where they chanted song.
Security agents, including police and army were also stationed at nearby Teslim Balogun, Surulere, National Theatre, Iganmu and Gani Fawehinmi Park on Ikorodu road, Ojota.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operations), Mr. Mohammed Ali, said the protesters did not obtain permission for the protest.
Lagos State police spokesman, Mr Bala Elkana, confirmed arrest of nine protesters at the stadium but said there was no casualty.
“There were rumours making the round that one person was shot. Nobody was shot. The photograph that is viral of a man with gunshot injury is a lie. The photograph we are seeing is not gunshot. The photograph is that of wound but not gunshot.”
Activists defy downpour, protest in Abuja
Activists defied downpour in Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, as they converged on offices of National Human Rights Commission, Maitama, to protest against the poor security situation and other social vices in the country.
The protesters chanted “Freedom comes by struggle, by struggle” and demanded release of Mr Omoyele Sowore, one of the conveners of the protest, arrested by DSS on Saturday.
The protesters had planned to hold rally at the popular Unity Fountain, but changed their plans following heavy security presence at the park.
At the office of NHRC, they delivered a letter in which they expressed displeasure over the continued silence of the Commission to the undemocratic incidences in the country.
Coordinator of the group, Mr Dare-Atoye Ariyo condemned the government for tagging the protest a violent one.
“We have intelligence that some compromised Nigerians have been paid to attack us during this protest so that it will be labelled a confrontation. We are peaceful people. This is a revolution against corrupt ruling elites,” he said.
Ariyo said the arrest and detention of Sowore was undemocratic and disgraceful.
Aside the protest at NHRC, the FCT did not witness any protest. Police Public Relations Officer said no arrest was made.
Security foils protest in Oyo, Osun
In Ibadan, a combined team of security operatives took over the main entrance of University of Ibadan to preempt the protest.
Officers from the police, State Security Service, Nigerian Army, NSCDC and Oyo State combined security team codenamed “Operation Burst” had, as early as 6:30 a.m., took over the gate in anticipation of the protest march.
However, security agents did not prevent movement despite their heavy presence.
Police spokesperson in the state, Mr Olugbenga Fadeyi said in a statement that the police would not fold their arms and allow any group to cause anarchy in the state.
It was gathered that some arrests were made, but Fadeyi, could not confirm it at the time of filing this report, saying he would find out the number of persons arrested in connection with the protest and get back to the reporter.
In Osun, protesters led by Mr Olawale Adebayo, had arrived the popular Olaiya Junction, Osogbo, to address newsmen on reason for the protest. The protesters who had mobilised no fewer than 30 persons were halted by DSS and police personnel.
The operatives asked the protesters to disperse but were rebuffed by a group of youths numbering no fewer than 30 and decked in orange berets and handkerchiefs. The youths stood their ground and sang protest songs.
The security team threw tear gas at the crowd which eventually dispersed them.
Earlier, Adebayo addressed newsmen in Fagbewesa area of Osogbo on their demands from government after which they intended to take the protest to the streets.
An elderly woman, Mrs Sariyu Akanmu was brutalised by armed policemen while five members of #RevolutionNow group were arrested by police and DSS operatives, who also used teargas to disperse the protesters.
Security at alert in Rivers
Security was beefed up at strategic places in Port Harcourt and its environs, Rivers State, to forestall breakdown of law and order.
Though, there was downpour in Port Harcourt, security operatives took over the popular Isaac Boro Park, the muster point for the protesters.
Pockets of persons suspected to be protesters were dispersed by policemen at their take off point.
Rivers State Governor, Mr Nyesom Wike, had earlier warned that nobody should attempt the #RevolutionNow protest in the state.
Police disrupts athletes’ training in Kwara
To forestall breakdown of law and order in Ilorin, Kwara State, armed police operatives stormed the state’s stadium complex to disperse athletes on training.
Sporting activities at the stadium complex, located in the metropolis, were disrupted as athletes, who had arrived at the stadium for training, were turned back.
Police were ordered to block the stadium gate followiong speculation that the facility had been picked as meeting point for the protest match.
Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr Ajayi Okasanmi said presence of policemen at the stadium was to prevent chaos.
Kaduna streets half empty
Most streets and popular places in Kaduna metropolis were half empty as residents deserted such areas.
The tensed situation in Kaduna city was compounded by the trial of embattled leader of Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Mr Ibraheem Zakzaky, who was brought to court amidst tight security.
Our Correspondents who visited major streets of Ahmadu Bello Way, Abeokuta Street, Yakubu Gowon Way, Muhammadu Buhari Way, Junction Road, Ibrahim Taiwo road, amongst others, noted that some shops and offices were not opened.
The ever busy post office area of Yakubu Gowon Way, where hawkers of various items used to converge was deserted.
There was heavy presence of combined security operatives across the city.
Security beefed up in Edo
Police and DSS laid siege to premises of Bendel Newspapers Company Limited (BNCL), publishers of the Nigerian Observer, to prevent civil society members from embarking on the planned protest.
Civil society members were assembling in front of the media house in readiness for take off when security agents arrived to disperse them.
The security agencies also besieged secretariat of Edo State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
The security personnel positioned their vehicles at strategic entrance to Nigerian Observer and its adjoining streets like the vegetable market road and the Observer lane.
The security officers stormed Nigerian Observer premises with four Hilux patrol vans and NUJ secretariat with three.
However, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Chidi Nwabuzor, denied claim that the presence of the security operatives were for the protest march.
Chidi said it was to forestall attacks on the media house.