The Youth Rights Campaign has condemned the arrest of human rights activist, Omoyele Sowore, and his colleagues, Juwon Sanyaolu, Damilare Adenola, Peter and Kimrere by policemen on New Year’s Eve, for staging a peaceful protest.
The YRC added that such a repressive action showed that President Muhammadu Buhari’s New Year speech to listen to the youth and Nigerians with divergent opinions lacked sincerity.
The campaign in a release signed on Saturday by its National Coordinator, Adaramoye Michael, and National Secretary, Francis Nwapa, noted that Sowore’s arrest showed that the Buhari government was not about to change its “dictatorial tendencies, rather it intends to sustain its attacks on democratic rights and state repression in 2021”.
The YRC said, “YRC condemns any form of continuous repression and attack on democratic rights by the Buhari-led government and demands the immediate and unconditional release of Sowore and other arrested ‘crossover’ protesters.
“We also call on the Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress and all pro-labour organisations to condemn the arrest and demand their release. We call on the youth and the working people to wage relentless mass struggles against capitalist exploitation, corruption and attacks on democratic rights in the New Year.
“It is our belief that Omoyele Sowore’s earlier call on Nigerians to register their grievances against the Buhari-led Government in what he tagged #CrossOverProtest did not warrant the arrest and the level of brutalisation he and others were made to suffer.
“Protest, alongside rights to freedom of speech and assembly, is an inalienable fundamental human right. YRC reliably gathered that they were almost done with the procession before being rounded up by men of the Nigeria Police Force at Gudu junction, who brutalised and injured them before being whisked away to Abattoir Police Station in Abuja.
“We have also gathered that the police authorities are planning to arraign them in court on trumped-up charges. These heavy strong-arm tactics adopted by the Buhari regime to suppress freedom of assembly and dissent voices against the regime are a sign of a jittery regime which has lost its social base and can only keep itself in office through repression.
“YRC reiterates its opposition towards the Buhari-led government’s style of repressing activists and demands an immediate and unconditional release of Omoyele Sowore, Juwon Sanyaolu, Michael Adenola and others arrested now.”