SEVERAL Nigerians have condemned the shooting of journalist and human rights activist Omoyele Sowore during a peaceful protest held in Abuja on Monday.
Sowore had announced on his Twitter account that he was shot by the police while protesting with other civil society personages on Monday. It was not clear whether he sustained a gunshot or teargas canister wound due to conflicting reports.
In a statement, Senior Advocate of Nigeria Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa urged Nigerians and the international community to hold the government of President Muhammadu Buhari responsible if Sowore came to harm while exercising his fundamental rights.
“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 work place, away from his family and loved ones. I urge the government to allow Mr. Sowore be and not to deploy the instruments of state coercion against a single individual, all in the attempt to break and silence him,” he said.
The SAN stressed that the police should accord full respect to the fundamental rights of Nigerian citizens and engage universal rules of civil engagements as these were lessons to be learnt from the #EndSARS protests of 2020.
Convener of the Concerned Nigerians Group Deji Adeyanju said on his Twitter page that Nigerians had stopped believing in peace as a result of the unfair treatment meted out to unarmed protesters by the present government.
“This is Buhari’s Nigeria where protesters are treated like criminals. This is why many no longer believe in peace,” he said.
The Socio-economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has also taken to Twitter to condemn the shooting and has called on the Nigerian authorities to investigate the allegation and punish the offenders accordingly.
“We condemn reports that Omoyele Sowore, a journalist, and activist was shot at by the police in Abuja this morning during a peaceful protest at the Unity Fountain. Nigerian authorities should promptly, thoroughly, and transparently investigate the allegation and ensure that anyone suspected to be responsible is brought to justice,” it read.
The FCT Police Command has, however, issued a statement denying the shooting, stating that police operatives professionally restored calm at the protest ground after attempts by the protesters to incite public disturbance.
- “The protesters who went on the rampage were resisted by the Police Operatives in order to prevent them from causing a breakdown of law and order. There is no record of such incident as at the time of this release,” the police said.