Joe Odumakin, Amnesty International, others condemn attack on Sowore

How police officer fired tear gas at Sowore at close range — AAC official

Many human rights advocates and organisations have criticised the Nigerian police for firing a teargas canister at Omoyele Sowore, during a protest in Abuja.

A female police officer reportedly fired the less-lethal weapon capable of burning the skin at the political activist at the Unity Fountain on Monday.

This newspaper also obtained a video capturing moments when the incident happened, with Mr Sowore flanked on both sides by two protesters.

As of the time of filing this report, Mr Sowore was at the hospital receiving medical treatment.

In her reaction, Joe Okei Odumakin, who is still mourning the death of her husband, Yinka Odumakin, described the act of the police as unacceptable.

“Nigeria is a democratic country under law and not a dictatorship or banana republic.

“Freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of movement are some of the fundamental human rights granted to Nigerian citizens by the 1999 Constitution as amended.

“The widely-expressed flaws of this Constitution notwithstanding, it still charges journalists to hold the government accountable to the people.

She however demanded prompt and effective treatment of Mr Sowore and any of his colleagues wounded in the unprovoked assault by the police.

Also, in a brief statement, global rights group Amnesty International, called on the Nigerian authorities to investigate the attack.

“Amnesty International received disturbing report that activist Omoyele #Sowore was shot by the police, during a protest against rampant insecurity in Abuja. Protesters deserved to be listened to, not shot at.”

“We call on Nigerian authorities to investigate the incident and bring perpetrators to justice. #Sowore”.

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In a similar vein, the Rule of Law And Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), in a statement signed by its executive director, Okechukwu Nwanguma, expressed shock over the show of force by the police operatives.

“RULAAC has received with utter astonishment the shocking news of the shooting today of Omoyele Sowore, human rights activist and publisher of Sahara Reporters at the Unity Fountain, Abuja during a peaceful protest by Citizens groups against worsening insecurity in Nigeria.

“Mr Sowore was shot on his right thigh by a female Police Officer identified as Hyelhira Altine Daniel, a member of one of the police teams deployed to the Unity Fountain to break up the peaceful protest against insecurity in Nigeria. Sowore has been rushed to a hospital.”

The group stated that the shooting was “unprovoked, unwarranted and unjustifiable as neither Sowore nor any of the other protesters were bearing arms or posed any threat to the Police officers or anyone else.”

It added that the conduct of the police officer is reckless and contrary to professional standards as stipulated in the Nigeria Police Force Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement.

“The conduct of the police officer amounts to an abuse of firearms and an attempt to murder Sowore, who is not a criminal and was not committing any crime at the time she shot him.

“The resort to excessive brute force by police to suppress peaceful exercise of constitutionally protected freedoms of expression, assembly and movement is a cowardly attempt by an incompetent government to instill fear among the citizens and to intimidate them into abandoning their civic duty of demanding good governance and the fulfilment of the primary purpose of government which is security and welfare.”

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Other reactions from social media

@adeyanjudeji: Got out of a meeting to join the protest at Unity Fountain, only for Femi Falana to call me asking if I was at Unity Fountain that Sowore has been shot by the police. This is Buhari’s Nigeria where protesters are treated like criminals. This is why many no longer believe in PEACE.

Got out of a meeting to join the protest at Unity Fountain, only for Femi Falana to call me asking if I was at Unity Fountain that Sowore has been shot by the police. This is Buhari’s Nigeria where protesters are treated like criminals. This is why many no longer believe in PEACE

— Comrade Deji Adeyanju (@adeyanjudeji) May 31, 2021

@mrfestusogun: We will hold @PoliceNG accountable for their recklessness, highhandedness and criminality. Aiming at Sowore’s life all because he’s exercising his right to protest is an attack against the civic space and the height of gangsterism.

We will hold @PoliceNG accountable for their recklessness, highhandedness and criminality. Aiming at Sowore’s life all because he’s exercising his right to protest is an attack against the civic space and the height of gangsterism.

— FESTUS OGUN (@mrfestusogun) May 31, 2021

@firstladyship: BREAKING: Omoyele Sowore just tweeted he’s been shot by a police officer, ACP Atine, at the Unity Fountain, Abuja.

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They’ve criminalized “peaceful protests” in Nigeria. They employ thugs, use the army & the police to attack, & kill peaceful protesters. You have monsters in power.

BREAKING: Omoyele Sowore just tweeted he’s been shot by a police officer, ACP Atine, at the Unity Fountain, Abuja.

They’ve criminalized “peaceful protests” in Nigeria. They employ thugs, use the army & the police to attack, & kill peaceful protesters. You have monsters in power.

— NEFERTITI (@firstladyship) May 31, 2021

@Olayemia1578: Sowore isn’t our regular activist. It’s in our own interest to rally, leave biases & support him. He’s continued to prove that he’s courageous always, 2 confront d evil many dread. He’s not perfect, but a national asset that must b protected at all cost. We’d hld police responsible!

Sowore isn’t our regular activist. It’s in our own interest to rally, leave biases&support him. He’s continued to prove that he’s courageous always, 2confront d evil many dread. He’s not perfect, but a national asset that must b protected at all cost. We’d hld police responsible!

— Abayomi Khabeer Olayemi (@Olayemia1578) May 31, 2021

@ShehuSani: The report that @YeleSowore has been shot is unfortunate.

The report that @YeleSowore has been shot is unfortunate.

— Senator Shehu Sani (@ShehuSani) May 31, 2021

 

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