The deadly violence meted out against Mr. Omoyele Sowore, publisher of Saharareporters right at the front of the Federal High Court, Abuja, despite the presence of security agencies is highly condemnable as it remains yet another an indication of a failing security system and or a coordinated attempt by unscrupulous individuals to silent all activists in Nigeria, said a leading Anticorruption Group, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre). The Group therefore called on the Nigeria Police, including the Department of State Security (DSS) to investigate this and indeed all forms of attacks against activists and prosecute the culprits.
In a statement in Lagos, the organisation called on the Police and the DSS to investigate the attack on Sowore and prosecute the offenders including security agents who either watched on or aided the violence in any way. HEDA said: the DSS has been alleged to be complicit in the attack against Sowore just as the Police has been alleged of complicity in various attacks against activists, a diligent investigation and prosecution of this case is a good starting point for the agencies to clear their names, if indeed the allegations are not true.
“Today again, the DSS mobilised thugs to attack and kill me for attending Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s farcical trial at the Federal High Court in Abuja. They came well prepared, however, we cannot be deterred. The struggle continues;” said Omoyele Sowore in a news report.
According to Sowore’s own account, “I was at the Federal High Court in Abuja today to cover, observe and witness the trial of IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu before Justice Binta Nyanko. Soon as court proceedings ended, I left the court room and tried going to my next assignment in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.
“A soon as I reached the gate of the Federal High Court, I was alerted to the large presence of thugs and hoodlums carrying dangerous weapons. I had been briefed that these persons were mobilised by Nigeria’s secret police known as the DSS;” Sowore said. In a viral video of the event, the hoodlums were seen throwing stones while Sowore ran for his life. Sowore was reportedly attacked with dangerous objects leading to the destruction of his car and injuries to some of the occupants in the car travelling with him while he also sustained injuries from broken glasses.
According to HEDA, while the attack on Sowore is condemned in the strongest term, it is even more worrisome that the attack is becoming a norm as a similar report was made during his last appearance in court for the same purpose where he was physically attacked in the full glare of security agents. That experience and case is still to be investigated.
The organisation noted that the attack against Sowore is one of many incidents of physical, psychological, socio-political attacks against activists ranging from physical attacks, futile litigations, unwarranted arrests and detention, media propaganda, blackmail among others, all indicating a coordinated attempt by a dangerous class within the ruling elite to silent all dissent and eliminate all activists in a fashion even more dangerous than what obtained in the worst days of military regimes. Therefore, the Nigeria Police must dissociate itself from such abuses of political offices by diligently investigating these attacks, prosecuting culprits regardless of whose ox is gored and reclaiming the trust of Nigerians based on its popular cliché: “Police is your friend.”
In a statement signed by Olanrewaju Suraju, the Chair of the group, HEDA also urges the media to wake up to its role as a watchdog, urging journalists to investigate attacks on journalists and activists with a view to protecting freedom of expression, without which even the media itself cannot survive.