By Hassan Zaggi
No less than 40 protesters of #RevolutionNow group who were arrested in Abuja, have been released.
The protesters were rounded up by security operatives after they had converged at the “Unity Fountain” beside Transcorp Hilton Hotel on Wednesday afternoon.
Comrade Kunle Ajayi, the General Secretary, United Action for Democracy who is a leading member of TakeItBack Movement stated before their arrest that, “We are here to lead the revolution and protest for free functional and standard education at all levels, free functional and advanced healthcare, a very good example is under this COVID-19 pandemic that we are in.
“Hospitals are not working; doctors are on strike. A lot of things are wrong with the country. We decided to mobilize community-by-community, street-by-street, for people to tell the government that ‘enough is enough’.
“We are saying that Nigerians want better education, better healthcare and social welfare, and topmost of all is security.
“You cannot continue to do as if the country is a grave yard.
“As it is today in most parts of this country, everybody is living without security.
“And that is why we wondered, why we legally and constitutionally came to protest at the specific place that is assigned for protest in FCT, which is the Unity Fountain.
“We are in the place, with face masks and we observed social distancing, and we came out to protest peacefully, but we were chased out of the place. Not only are we chased out, we were beaten.”
The protesters were arrested and probably taken before a Mobile Court, but for the intervention of Mr. Ikharo Attah who heads the FCTA Task Force on COVID-19.
He explained that “when they came to the court, the Magistrate had several other cases in other courts and couldn’t sit”.
Attah said that: “About 40 of them have all been released and (have) been tasked to always conform with COVID-19 protocol whenever they are out to protest.
“You have the right to association, right to protest, a right to freedom of speech and expression, but as you do all those, you must always conform to COVID-19 protocols.
“The Enforcement Team went out in our normal routine operation and this time, we made some arrests of some persons who came to protest and it is clear that this is a democratic nation and everyone has the right to protest, to voice out, but this must be done within the rules that govern the country and one of such rules is to obey the issues of COVID-19, so they were brought to the Mobile Court in line with COVID-19 violations.
“When there is protest, social distancing is very difficult to observe, so when they came to the court, the Magistrate had several other cases in other courts and couldn’t sit.
“And in our own wisdom, as persons with listening ears, we talked to them, and it was agreed by all parties that they should go and observe all the laid down COVID-19 protocols before they will be released and they agreed to abide by that.”
The #RevolitionNow group led by Sowore, a former presidential candidate, and former ally of President Muhammadu Buhari, has been one of the critical voices against the style of governance of the current administration.
Before the protest, they took to the social media, criticising virtually all aspects of the administration, especially issues of claimed condoning of acts of corruption by persons believed to be close to the president or the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) leadership.
They have also voiced out critical comments against the rising insecurity in the country, particularly the seeming combination of the herdsmen, who are believed to be on ethnic cleansing through the attack of farmers and through other crimes such as kidnapping.
They have equally criticised the apparent nepotism exhibited by the registration in appointments and citing/execution of critical projects.