Nigerians again took to the streets of Abuja on Wednesday to demand immediate release of journalists and activists imprisoned by the Nigerian government.
The protesters, led by Deji Adeyanju, said authorities should immediately release Omoyele Sowore, Stephen Kefas, Jones Abiri and other Nigerians held for exercising their rights to free speech and cease further punitive actions against them.
The protest was disrupted by security forces near the Unity Fountain shortly after it began, but the protesters said they were able to vent their displeasure.
Mr Sowore was arrested by the State Security Service on August 3 for planning a protest to demand an end to growing insecurity and economic hardship in the country. Mr Kefas has been in custody for his social media activism, while Mr Abiri has been on and off SSS custody since 2016.
President Muhammadu Buhari deceived Nigerians that he had become a “converted democrat” to secure votes, but his activities since becoming president have shown he had not departed from his brutal past as a military dictator, Mr Adeyanju said at the rally Wednesday morning.
Mr Adeyanju said those locked up in different jails by security forces represent the hardship of Mr Buhari’s “maladministration.”
He vowed to hold regular demonstration until all the “political prisoners of conscience” are set free.
Other activists at the protest said they will not be intimidated by security forces, warning authorities to brace for an upcoming rise in activism across the country as a way of showing defiance towards government crackdown.
Mr Sowore is currently serving a 45-day remand order which a federal judge controversially granted last week. The order was granted to allow the SSS gather additional evidence to prosecute the activist and publisher of Sahara Reporters, a development widely condemned as incompatible with democracy.