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Nigerians Shun ‘Revolution’ March

Nigerians from various states of the federation yesterday turned their back to the ‘Revolution’ March called for yesterday by the presidential candidate of the Action Alliance Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore.

Instead, the citizens went about their normal social and economic activities. In most of the public places visited by LEADERSHIP, markets, schools, and offices were opened. Workers turned up in large numbers and were seen performing their normal routine.

However, in a few states where some activists attempted to gather, security agents quickly mobilised to the areas and dispersed the scanty crowd. The security agents also kept sentry in public offices and structures to ensure law and order.

Some governors warned the sponsors and supporters of the march to keep away from their states and directed the police to ensure that no illegal gatherings were allowed in their states.

Sowore had on Saturday declared that a revolution march would begin all over Nigeria yesterday and threatened that there would no longer be any form of government once the protests were kicked off.

Consequently, the Department of State Services (DSS) promptly arrested him, saying that he had crossed the line. The DSS accused him of working with his foreign allies to destabilise Nigerians

And impressed with Nigerians’ total indifference to the “revolution” call,  the presidency has  thanked millions of the citizens for going about their businesses: work, seeking employment, attending school/college and caring for their families.

Aso Rock said that by doing so, the millions defended “our country’s hard-won democratic rights – by ignoring calls on the social media to join a phantom ‘revolution’.”

Presidential media aide, Mallam Garba Shehu, said there were a few hundred persons today who, for their own reasons, decided to act upon the demands of a group calling itself Global Coalition for Security and Democracy in Nigeria, which went on social media to ask everyday Nigerians to overthrow the government they only elected some six months ago.

He disclosed that the President is humbled by the support – not for himself, or the governing party  but for the democratic values of modern-day Nigeria through the wisdom of those millions of citizens who preferred democracy and decided not to undermine an elected government.

He said: “Today (yesterday) , joining those millions of Nigerians was not only the president and governing party at Federal level, but many state governments from the opposition, trade unions, civil society organisations, media and NGOs with focus on freedom of speech.

“All have, rightly, united in protecting Nigeria’s young democracy and the rights of all to elect leaders and lawmakers.

“The Global Coalition for Security and Democracy in Nigeria’s attempt to incite citizens into a revolution against their own democratic rights and interests has failed – as will all attempts to take away from the people their hard-won rights and freedom to choose who leads their country.’’

 

Security Operatives “Show Of Force” Patrol In Ogun

A state by state monitoring of Nigerians’ response to Sowore’s call, showed that Abeoluta and parts of Ogun State were calm. Residents went about their lawful businesses without any form of molestation.

A combined team of security operatives embarked on a “show of force” patrol round the major streets of Abeokuta metropolis, the state capital to warn the would-be-protesters to keep way from any acts of illegalities.

The “show of force” patrol involved personnel from the police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defencee Corps (NSCDC), and operatives of the DSS.  They blared their sirens as they moved from area to another..

Speaking with journalists at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) headquarters in Oke -Ilewo, Abeokuta during the exercise, the police public relations officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, warned against unlawful gathering, stressing that police would deal with any act that could jeopardise peace in the state.

 

Delta Youths Shun Protest

To youths in Delta State under the umbrella of Anioma Youth Mandate (AYM), the “revolution” march was unnecessary as they described the move as capable of escalating the insecurity situation in the country.

On this basis, the protest did not take place in any part of the state as the residents went about their normal businesses.

In a press release signed by its national president, Nnamdi Ofonye, the group advised Deltans not to be dragged into what it described as a dangerous adventure, warning that any action that has the potential to destabilise, heighten insecurity and lead to total breakdown of law and order in the country should not be supported.

AYM noted that while it is the right of any group or individual to stage a peaceful protest against any policy deemed to be anti-people, the statement credited to Sowore that Nigerians should end the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari like what happened in Egypt, Somalia and Tunisia through revolution went too far.

The youths called on Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to ban such demonstrations from taking place in any part of the state.

 

Police Mount Surveillance At Ilorin Stadium

There was no ay form of protest in Kwara State. However, heavily armed policemen yesterday barricaded the gate leading to Ilorin Township Stadium and prevented athletes and other people from gaining entrance, apparently to forestall any protest in the stadium.

It was gathered that many of the athletes, who were stranded in and around the stadium gate on the popular Taiwo Ibrahim Road, questioned why sportsmen would be denied access to facilities for training.

Investigations showed that the police were ordered to block the stadium upon the speculation that the facility had been picked as meeting point for a purported revolution rally.

The spokesman of the state police command, Ajayi Okasanmi, said that the presence of policemen at the stadium was a proactive measure to prevent chaos.

 

Kebbi Residents Observe Normal Activities

Residents of Kebbi State also joined other Nigerians to shun the planned protest against the federal government.

Most of them, especially residents in Birnin Kebbi, the state capital went about their normal activities in preparation for the coming Sallah festival expected to hold on Sunday.

When our correspondent went round the streets in Birnin Kebbi, many people said they were unaware of the call for a revolution march.

Market, shops, banks and government offices were opened as other business activities went on smoothly.

 

No Demonstration In Adamawa

There was no attempt to comply with the call for “revolution march” across the entire 21 local government areas of Adamawa State, as it was entirely calm.

Police spokesman, Suleiman Yahaya, said that security measures were taken even though the people were not aware of the planned protest.

Yahaya added that the “people are going about their normal business, the state is relatively calm. Nobody is seen protesting, nobody is even aware about it.”

Shops were opened for business while civil servant were at their offices to carry out their official duties.

 

Police Arrest Journalists For Unlawful Gathering In C/River

Four persons including the correspondent of Nation Newspaper in Cross River State, Mr. Nicolas Kalu, were, however, picked by the police for unlawfully gathering at the State Cultural Centre complex to participate in the protest.

Others said to be in police net as a result of the march were the managing editor of Crossriverwatch, Jeremiah Archibong and his colleague Jonathan Ugbal.

There were no details on why the police arrested them as they were reportedly at the venue to cover the event.

A police source said that Kalu and others were arrested for being at the venue of the protest despite the warning by the police that no one should be found in the area.

The state police command’s spokesman, Irene Ugbo, said that the police would never hold any journalist for covering event and promised that they would be released.

 

Katsina Spurns Protest

Residents of Katsina State and the organized labour did not participate in the march. In Katsina metropolis, people went about their endeavours but the state secretariat of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) that is often the rallying point for most workers’ protests was locked.

Several stern-looking policemen and a patrol vehicle were stationed there as police and other security operatives took over some strategic locations ostensibly to ensure the safety of life and property in case of any form of lawlessnes.

The state NLC chairman, Hussani Hamisu, told LEADERSHIP that the “NLC did not in any way associate itself with the protest; that is why you met our secretariat empty. My position is in line with that of our national body because if it is connected to NLC, we would have been informed appropriately by the national body. I am hearing about the protest for the first time from you.”

Most of the residents of Katsina said that they were going about their normal socio-economic activities because they were not aware of the planned march.

 

Police Seal Take-off Point In Rivers

Operatives of the Rivers State police command sealed off the Isaac Boro Park, Port Harcourt, the planned take-off point of the “RevolutionNow” protest.

LEADERSHIP observed that as early as 4:00am, over 200 riot policemen, drafted from various divisions in the state, took over all entry points into the park, thereby making it impossible for the protesters to converge.

The development may not be unconnected with the directive of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike to the security agencies to arrest anyone involved in the protest.

“Nobody should attempt the “RevolutionNow” protest in Rivers State” Wike had warned.

The governor said that the state was not part of the protest and whatever illegal agenda it seeks to pursue.

He therefore directed security agencies to arrest anybody involved in it and also take necessary  steps  to prosecute such persons.

 

Gridlock In Makurdi As Police Barricade Streets

There was a gridlock in Makurdi, the Benue State capital following the drastic measures employed by the police to avert the protest in the state.

Our correspondent who went round the state capital observed that the police headquarters located close to the DSS office on the same route to the Government House, Makurdi was barricaded with police vehicles and armed officers.

Similarly, an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APS) was stationed at the Wurukum Roundabout which connects the North to the South even as siren blaring police cars patrolled Makurdi.

The spokesperson of the command, DSP Catherine Anene, said that they had deployed enough men across the state to forestall any protest, noting that so far there had been no such incident.

It was, however, gathered that some youths who stormed the High Level Roundabout in the early hours of yesterday with placards for the protest were arrested by the police.

 

Mixed Reactions In Sokoto

In Sokoto State, mixed reaction trailed the call for revolution. While some residents praised Sowore’s  boldness others said that his action was simply an invitation to anarchy in a country that is already facing several challeges.

Mallam Ibrahim Adamu Tudun-Doki, the North West coordinator of Universal Period Review and an activist, said that any sincere individual knows that revolution was eminent in Nigeria.

He, however, added that, Nigeria’s revolution should be a call for value reorientation, education, genuine unity amongst others as the nation’s leaders had failed.

But some youths under different banners slammed Sowore over his call for a revolution in Nigeria.

The youths said that Sowore might have good intention but communicated it in a wrong manner and approach, noting that revolution under whatever guise had never been good for any country.

Speaking under the banner of Sokoto Progressive Youths Movement, Ibrahim Shehu, said, not minding whatever the country is going through for now, the citizenry should still show some level of tolerance like they have always done.

 

CSOs In Borno Condemns March

The Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Borno State condemned the “revolution March “ organised by Sowore, describing it as undemocratic.

Speaking to LEADERSHIP in Maiduguri, the chairman of CSOs in the state, Ambassador Ahmed Shehu, said as citizens, they believed that the current government is democratically elected.

“As government that is democratically elected, we as citizens have respect for democratic ideals and in as much as there are so many avenues of addressing issues in a democratic setting, whoever is aggrieved should follow the appropriate channels,”  he said.

 

Scores Arrested In Lagos, As Oluwo Condemns Unrest

Police operatives in Lagos State and military personnel yesterday arrested scores of “RevolutionNow” protesters and barricaded the National Stadium, Surulere to prevent them from gaining entrance into the facility.

Speaking with journalists, the state police spokesman, Balla Elkana, confirmed the arrest of the protesters at the stadium.

He said: “We have arrested nine of the protesters and they are in our custody.”

Police patrol vehicles, including that of the Rapid Respond Squad (RRS), numbering over 20, Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), anti-riot operatives, civil defence operatives and military joint taskforce operatives were stationed at the two main gates.

Our correspondent observed that as at 8.40am, a few protesters gathered under the stadium bridge without any banner or placard in their hands, but wore orange colour berets.

It was also learnt that employees of the National Stadium, students of National Institute for Sports (NIS) and members of the public who came for routine training at the stadium were locked out by security operatives.

A source told newsmen to leave the area as the operatives would tear-gas the protesters any moment they gathered there.

The Area C commander, ACP Tijani Fatai, who was at the scene, told newsmen that the police were on ground to stop any form of protest planned to hold in the stadium.

Fatai said that they were not there to provide security for protesters and advised the crowd in the  front of the National Stadium gate to leave to avoid being caught up in any rush if the protesters showed up.

The deputy commissioner of police for Operations in the state command, DCP Mohammed Ali, told reporters that the protesters did not obtain permission.

Commenting on the development, the Oluwo of Iwoland, Oba Abdulrosheed Adewale Akanbi, warned the agitators to respect Nigeria’s constitution and be sensitive to moves tantamount to causing unrest in the country.

The monarch said that corrective protest was not alien to the country’s democracy, but condemned the call by “sore losers to cause mayhem in the nation through unmerited revolution.”

He stated that the call was not “timely sensing the fragility of our insecurity”, adding such energy should be used in complementing the current government’s efforts at achieving a better Nigeria.

 

Nigerians Need Dialogue Not Revolution – Igbo Youths

In their reaction, some south easterners under the aegis of Igbo Youth Assembly (IYA) urged Nigerians to engage the federal government in a dialogue and not revolution in the interest of peace and unity of the country.

IYA canvassed the position in a statement signed by its president-general, Ifeanyi Nwaudunna and secretary-general, Casmir Nnadozie-Irekamba.

“Igbo Youth Assembly Worldwide disagrees with Mr. Omoyele Sowore, the founder of Sahara Reporters, Leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu and others that what Nigerians need is constructive engagement and dialogue with the government not revolution.

“Just like every good citizens of Nigeria, Igbo Youth Assembly worldwide wants the unity, peace and progress of Nigeria, where tenets of democracy, rule of law, social, political, economic justice work for all of us,” Nwaudunna said,

 

Lawyers, NGO Fault Sowore’s Arrest, Detention

Meanwhile, the Coalition of Public Interests Lawyers and Advocates (COPA) and the United Global Resolve for Peace (UGRFP) have faulted the arrest and detention of Sowore.

The groups, in separate statements issued yesterday in Abuja, described the detention of Sowore as needless and ill-advised.

The convener of COPA, Pelumi Olajengbesi, said that the group had the right to congregate, protest and express their reservations about the Federal Government policies or its leadership direction.

“The objectives and the much-publicised move by the group to protest via an organised peaceful march against state policies is a democratically recognised means of engagement with any elected government.

Olajengbesi said that COPA viewed the excuse given by the federal government for Sowore’s arrest as an insult to public intelligence and sensibility.

Also, Shalom Olaseni, executive director, UGRFP, said that no society would truly be free if thoughts were regulated by their conformity or variance with government position.

Olaseni said that in as much as his group was not holding brief for any political movement or allowing political colorations to taint its positions on national issues, it was necessary for the rule of law to be respected.

 

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