Police Opens Venue For #RevolutionNow Symposium
Police have opened the venue for the proposed #RevolutionNow symposium by civil society organisations, hours after blockading it in Lagos.
The venue, which had been sealed off since the early hours of today by the police and the State Security Service (SSS), was finally opened after the intervention of the human rights lawyer, Femi Falana.
The main organiser of the event was the Coalition for Revolution (CORE), a political movement led by the detained Nigerian activist, Omoyele Sowore.
The event, which was scheduled to draw an urgent attention to Nigeria’s growing social and security crises, as well as the way forward, was initially disrupted by security forces.
Organisers had invited public figures like Wole Soyinka and Femi Falana to help add their voices to the worsening insecurity and a general crackdown on critics of the Buhari government.
But, shortly before the event was billed to commence at 11:00 a.m., security agencies reportedly stormed the venue and attacked participants and reporters indiscriminately.
A BBC reporter was reportedly taken into custody and made to delete footage in his camera and other multimedia equipment.
The security operatives were reportedly from the police, the State Security Service and the Nigerian military.
Spokespersons for all the agencies did not return to requests for comments about the development.
“This is the response of a so-called civilian government to a symposium,” the CORE said in a statement. “No wonder the country is sinking deeper into crises.”
The group said any acts of intimidation by security agencies will be resisted and the event would go on as planned at the same venue, The Logos Centre, 46 Ibijoke Street, Oluyole Bus Stop, Oregun, Lagos.
It was unclear whether Mr Soyinka and other major headliners have arrived for the event before the security agencies moved in to frustrate it.
Anthony Kila, a Cambridge professor, was amongst those scheduled to speak at the event. He condemned the disruption in a telephone interview.
“I was prepared to speak on insecurity and increasing intolerance towards critics by this regime,” Mr Kila said. “Disrupting such a peaceful gathering of eminent Nigerians means the country is even in a bigger trouble than many preciously realised.”
When Mr Falana arrived the venue for the symposium, he met the venue on lock down by the force and subsequently demanded its opening, as it was a violation of their fundamental Human Rights.
Mr Falana, who, along with members of the #RevolutionNow, remained in front of the venue, despite being denied entry by the police, said no one had the right to deny them their rights to association.
The activist, who demanded to know on what grounds the police was keeping them from accessing the venue, was informed that the police was only trying to ensure that miscreants do not take over the processes.
After some time, the police agreed to let people into the venue, after doing a body search.
This is coming two weeks after SSS agents violently breached an apartment used by Mr Sowore in Lagos and took him into custody. The Sahara Reporters publisher has remained in custody after the Buhari government claimed his call for a nationwide protest against hardship amounted to terrorism.
Protesters and journalists were also dispersed and arrested in many parts of the country for joining a protest aimed at revolution, an action that the police tagged as treasonable felony.
The government has continued to ignore public outcry over Mr Sowore and kept him in custody in an unknown location.
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