The Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) on Wednesday related to Nigerians
who partook in last Monday's 'RevolutionNow' protests, as it required the quick genuine release of Omoyele Sowore.
The NLC had in a statement it issued last weekend, distanced itself from the protest which was planned for Monday, August 5, saying there was nothing to warrant it going into any protests.
Sowore, the convener of the protests was arrested on Saturday night by the operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS) and is still being detained by the DSS which approached a court on Tuesday to keep him for 90 days. The court is to decide the case on Thursday (today).
But the NLC in a statement signed by its general secretary, Peter Ozo-Eson, roundly condemned the clampdown on peaceful protesters by the security agencies, describing it as a violation of the right of citizens to protest which is guaranteed in the constitution.
According to the NLC, “there is nowhere in our constitution or laws that the security agencies are empowered to so brazenly attack peaceful protests and hound its organsers 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.
We view the violent attack on the peaceful protesters by security agencies and military personnel on Monday during a protest by some Nigerians in Lagos, Osogbo, Ibadan, Abuja and other cities 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 judgments of our courts.
The congress noted that 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, warning that the security agencies must not be allowed to continue to portray themselves as anti-democracy forces.
Particularly worrisome, the NLC observed, was the deployment of soldiers to attack protesters, especially in Lagos.
“To us, 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, Omoyele Sowore as an affront on 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.
The NLC noted that the continued detention of Sowore by the State Security Service lacks justification as his (Sowore’s) actions were not in any way threats to the sovereignty of Nigeria or the democratically constituted government of Nigeria but a minimum demand citizens can make from a government they democratically elected.
“Sowore and other protesters were not carrying arms against the state and we therefore demand their immediate unconditional release,” said the NLC.