Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has called on Nigerians and the international community to hold the government of President Muhammadu Buhari responsible should anything untoward happen to Omoyele Sowore, the convener of #RevolutionNow movement.
Adegboruwa said this in a statement on Monday in reaction to reports of an injury inflicted upon Sowore by the Nigeria Police Force in Abuja.
Reports emerged on Monday that Sowore, the publisher of Sahara Reporters, was hit by a tear gas cannister after a female police officer reportedly pulled the trigger while protesters gathered at the Unity Fountain in Abuja to protest against the rising spate of insecurity in the country.
Reacting, Adegboruwa warned that the health status of the seasoned activist must not be negatively impacted in any form.
According to the senior lawyer, Sowore has the right to exercise his fundamental rights by joining a rally to demand good governance and an end to insecurity.
The statement read: “Information reaching me indicates that early this morning in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Comrade Omoyele Sowore and other activists gathered at the Unity Fountain for a peaceful protest but they were denied access to the public facility which was cordoned off by the police. From the live Facebook video that I personally monitored, I saw Mr. Sowore engaging some policemen on the illegality of locking up the Unity Fountain.
“The conversation was civil and without any incident till the short video was terminated. I have however now been informed that shortly thereafter, some armed policemen stormed the Unity Fountain and released what appeared to be live bullets and tear gas into the crowd, with the consequent result that Mr. Sowore is presently in the hospital. It will be heartwarming to know that he has not been hit with any bullet from the alleged shooting.
“I urge all Nigerians and indeed the international community to hold the government of President Muhammadu Buhari responsible for anything that befalls Mr. Sowore on account of the lawful exercise of his fundamental rights. The Unity Fountain is a public place, where other citizens have held protests in support of the Buhari administration in the recent past, without let or hindrance and even with police escorts.”
Adegboruwa insisted that the president and his government must respect the rule of law, noting that he (Buhari) enjoyed same right to protest while he was in the opposition.
He stated that Sowore is being unfairly profiled by the security agencies, adding that the police seem not to have learnt from the #EndSARS protest with the way they still employ brash tactics to coerce citizens while trying to maintain law and order.
The statement read: “Mr. Sowore has been the target of criminal prosecution, on account of his non-violent campaign for good governance and accountability. In consequence, he has been restricted to the city of Abuja, outside his home and workplace, away from his family and loved ones. I urge the government to allow Mr. Sowore to be and not to deploy the instruments of state coercion against a single individual, all in the attempt to break and silence him.
“The lesson of the EndSARS campaign is to get all law enforcement agencies to embrace universal rules of civil engagements in order to avoid the usual casualties that follow their intervention in civil interactions with citizens.
“We cannot run a nation where everyone is held captive and hounded into compulsory silence. Consequently, I urge all protesters to remain peaceful and law-abiding, while the government and its agents should follow the procedure of the rule of law in the maintenance of law and order.”