The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has described the arrest of Mr. Omoyele Sowore and other protesters involved in the last Monday’s peaceful protest as a breach of their fundamental rights as well as other Nigerians’ collective right to freedom of expression and association as enshrined in all the international and national instruments that strengthen democracy.
The NLC, in a statement by the general secretary, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, said Sowore and other protesters were not carrying arms against the state and hence demanded their immediate release unconditionally.
He said, “His continued detention by the State Security Service lacks any justification, as his actions were not in any way threats to the sovereignty of Nigeria nor the democratically constituted government of Nigeria.
“He was just one out of several Nigerians demanding for good governance being the minimum demand citizens can make from a government they democratically elected.”
The NLC said it was with deep consternation that it viewed the attacks and arrest of peaceful protesters in some parts of the country by security agencies and military personnel on Monday during a protest by some Nigerians in Lagos, Osogbo, Ibadan, Abuja and other cities, tagged “RevlutionNow.”
“There is nowhere in our Constitution or laws that the security agencies are empowered to so brazenly attack peaceful protests and hound its organsers 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,” the labour centre said.
It added that, “We view the violent attack on peaceful protesters by security forces as a total violation of the fundamental rights of not just the protesters but all Nigerian citizens as guaranteed by the Constitution as well as various reported judgments of our courts.
“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, and our security agencies must not be allowed to continue to portray themselves as anti-democracy forces as the Monday attacks so clearly demonstrated.”
The congress lamented that it was much more worrisome that soldiers were deployed to attack protesters, especially in Lagos: “To us, soldiers have no role whatsoever in the management of civil protest and they must be called to order by government.”