Joe Okei-Odumakin, widow of the late human rights activist, Yinka Odumakin, has berated the Federal Government and the Nigeria Police Force over the reported shooting Omoyele Sowore, a former presidential candidate and convener of #RevolutionNow movement.
Okei-Odumakin took a break from her self-imposed three-month mourning period to issue her statement on Monday.
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, Okei-Odumakin, who is the President of Centre for Change, a civil society organisation, insisted that the attack on Sowore was uncalled for, stating that Nigeria is not a banana republic.
According to her, Nigerians are guaranteed the right under the constitution to freely express their thoughts on governance via peaceful protests.
The statement read: “This is unacceptable! Nigeria is a democratic country under law and not a dictatorship or banana republic.
“Freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of movement are some of the fundamental human rights granted to Nigerian citizens by the 1999 Constitution as amended.
“The widely-expressed flaws of this Constitution notwithstanding, it still charges journalists to hold the government accountable to the people.
“It accords the people the right of peaceful protest, especially when drawing government officials’ attention to their failings and the expectations of citizens from them, which is legitimate.”
The activist warned the government against overheating the polity by abusing the fundamental human rights of citizens, and called for the arrest of those involved.
The statement read: “We, therefore, condemn the shooting of Sowore as barbaric and an infringement of his rights under the law.
“These rights include the right to life, which is basic and which no government or its agents can breach in a whimsical way.
“We ask the Federal authorities to call the police to order, fish out the culprits and bring them to trial.
“The country is on tenterhooks already and nothing must be done by the authorities to heat up the polity further.
“We demand prompt and effective treatment of Sowore and any of his colleagues wounded in the unprovoked assault by the security operatives.
“All men and women of goodwill must condemn this assault and hold the government accountable.
“Patriotic Nigerians committed to securing a better future for our country must not be deterred by this dastardly act aimed at intimidating them but must redouble their efforts and forge ahead until victory is won.
“Nigeria shall be free! And the people shall rejoice!”