The police have warned Nigerians to stay away from the ‘RevolutionNow’ protest planned for August 5 by Omoyele Sowore and other Nigerian rights activists, saying the demonstration would amount to a felony and terrorism.
Police chief Muhammad Adamu said in a statement Saturday afternoon that the ‘RevolutionNow’ protest could incite anarchy in Nigeria, warning that anyone who may want to join it to have a rethink.
The social media have been awash with preparation for the protest on August 5. Mr Sowore, the publisher of Sahara Reporters, has been the main figure of the planned demonstration.
Mr Sowore and organisers said the demonstration would be peaceful, and they released a list of demands that they saw as necessary to take Nigeria out of its current malaise.
Nigeria is currently ranked to have the highest number of extremely poor people in the world, with the World Bank expressing fears that the country’s huge population could linger in multi-dimensional poverty.
Insecurity has also afflicted the country in recent months, with Boko Haram, killer herdsmen, armed bandits and deadly kidnappers having a field day.
Mr Sowore and other members of the ‘RevolutionNow’ protest said Nigerians should ignore further excuses and take to the street in peaceful demand a better society for themselves and future generation.
At no time did the ‘RevolutionNow’ activists call for violence, and they drew inspiration from recent peaceful demonstrations in Puerto Rico, Hong Kong, and other parts of the world.
The full demand of the protesters, which they said would be pursued peacefully, was published early Saturday.
Armed officials believed to be personnel of the SSS, in the early hours of Saturday, took Mr Sowore into custody allegedly in connection with the coming protest.
A witness, who identified himself as Mr Sowore’s driver, said the officers left in a manner typical of deadly kidnappers.
Lagos-based human rights activist, Inibehe Effiong, called for Mr Sowore’s immediate release, saying a call for revolution “is not treasonable under any guise.”
However, the organisers of #RevolutionNow said the protest would go on despite Mr Sowore’s arrest.
In their statement, the police acknowledged Nigerians have a constitutional right to speech and peaceful assembly, but warned, still, that the protest planned by Mr Sowore should be scrapped because it may turn violent.
The statement claimed that a video had been circulating online that called for violence during the ‘RevolutionNow’ protest, although the video was attributed to a name not known to be associated with Mr Sowore or any of the multiple leaders of the planned march.
The full statement of the police as released by Force Headquarters spokesperson, Frank Mba, is reproduced below:
The attention of the Nigeria Police Force has been drawn to a video circulating on the social media by the ‘Global Coalition for Security and Democracy in Nigeria and others’, inciting Nigerians, home and abroad, to join a planned ‘revolution’ march against the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Monday, 5th August, 2019 with the sole aim of forcing a regime change in the country.
The Force wishes to state unequivocally that the call amounts to treasonable felony and acts of terrorism and will therefore not stand idly-by and watch any individual or group in the society cause anarchy in the land.
While acknowledging the rights of Nigerians to embark on protest, the Force wishes to note that such rights should not translate to a violent and forceful change of government which clearly is the meaning of ‘revolution’. Needless to state that Nigeria is a democratic republic and has well-defined processes for change of government, exercised periodically during various cycle of elections.
The Force therefore warns the organisers, sponsors, allies, supporters, associates and sympathisers of the group ‘Global Coalition for Security and Democracy in Nigeria’ to, in their own interest, steer clear of any such planned protest, demonstration, acts of incitement and proposed “revolution”, as the full wrath of the law will be brought to bear on any individual or group engaged or found participating in the above planned criminal act.
Parents and guardians are therefore enjoined to impress on their children and wards not to allow themselves to be used in whatever form by any person or group of persons to cause breach of law and order in the country.
The police will work with other law enforcement agencies and positive minded Nigerians to protect, defend and secure our public peace and space.