Organisers have vowed to proceed with the planned protest for a better Nigeria under the banner of ‘RevolutionNow’, despite the arrest of its lead campaigner, Omoyele Sowore, on Saturday morning.
The activists said the demonstration will commence as scheduled on August 5, and will continue until their demands for a better Nigeria had been met.
“This arrest is not surprising to us. We know that the presidency has tried everything in their powers to discredit and dampen our struggle,” Kunle Ajayi, a leader of the movement, said in a statement to PREMIUM TIMES Saturday morning.
“For the past three days, the presidency has paid hugely to social media influencers and such others to discredit the #RevolutionNow all to no avail!
“The presidency even went as far as attacking Amnesty International believing that their blackmails would appeal to Nigerians.
“They also paid some ex-activists to counter us publicly but the mass of working people stood by #RevolutionNow!
“Lagos branch of the African Action Congress (AAC) condemns Sowore’s arrest and Buhari’s stubborn and cruel antidemocratic credentials. We believe that the #RevolutionNow will outlive all forces of repression, particularly the Buhari presidency.
“We call on the Coalition for Revolution (CORE) and other organisers to continue with mobilisation. A failed government cannot use force to make the mass of people to accept its failure,” the statement state.
Mr Sowore was arrested by heavily armed operatives from the State Security Service (SSS) at about 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, according to a close associate who witnessed it.
He was forcibly taken to the SSS field office in Shangisha Lagos, and has been kept incommunicado ever since.
Commentators have been using the social media to coordinate demand for his release. They condemned the government for cracking down on rights of citizens to organise protests and to demand good governance.
‘RevolutionNow’ activists slammed the arrest as counterproductive, saying Mr Sowore’s arrest would only result in additional attention and interest of Nigerians in the planned protest.
They also reminded the government that it was not illegal to call for a peaceful revolution, especially under a civil rule in which there are constitutional safeguards for freedom of speech, association and peaceful assembly.
The SSS has yet to return multiple multiple requests for comments from PREMIUM TIMES about what it knew of the arrest.