THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has called for the immediate release of the publisher of Saharareporters, Omoyele Sowore, and other protesters in the custody of security operatives.
The general secretary of the NLC, Peter Ozo-Eson, made this call in a statement released in Abuja.
The Labour body condemned the arrest and detention of Sowore and other protesters, saying it was unlawful for security agencies to attack a peaceful protest.
The NLC added that security agencies also lacked the power “to hound its organisers into detention as the right to peaceful protests, assembly and association is fully guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under sections 39 and 40″.
It said the midnight arrest of one of the organisers of the protests was an afront on his fundamental rights as well as the collective rights of Nigerians to freedom of expression and association.
Labour said those rights were enshrined in all the international and national instruments that strengthen democracy.
The NLC said the continued detention of Sowore by the State Security Service (SSS) lacks any justification as his action did not in any way threaten the sovereignty of Nigeria nor the democratically constituted government of Nigeria.
Sowore is one of several Nigerians demanding good governance, being the minimum demand citizens could make from a government they democratically elected, the Labour Union said.
“Besides, peaceful protests against bad governance or perceived anti-people government policies is one of the critical fundamental rights that expands the entrenchment and growth of democracy.
“Our security agencies must not be allowed to continue to portray themselves as anti-democracy forces as the Monday attacks so clearly demonstrated.
“Sowore and other protesters were not carrying arms against the state and we, therefore, demand their immediate release unconditionally,” the statement read.
The Labour union has also expressed its worry at the attack on protesters by soldiers in Lagos, asking the federal government to call the military to order, because they have no role in the management of civil protest.
Sowore on Monday planned a peaceful protest, with hashtag #revolutionNow, to demand social change and promote a better justice system in Nigeria.
The protest was however disrupted with the arrest of Sowore at midnight by the security agencies, stating the demonstration was treason and a form of terrorism.
Despite his arrest, members of the #TakeItBack movement, created by Sowore had embarked on the protest to demand his release but they were faced with violent attacks from security operatives.