The Publicity Secretary of African Action Congress (AAC), Olorunfemi Adeyeye, has given more details on how Omoyele Sowore was shot with a teargas canister in Abuja on Monday.
Mr Sowore was the flag bearer of the party in the 2019 presidential election.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier broke the news of how a female officer directly fired a tear gas canister at him.
The less-lethal weapon, usually used to disperse rioters, is hot enough to cause burns on the skin.
As of the time of filing this report, Mr Sowore is in the hospital in the city, receiving medical treatment.
However, in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Adeyeye said the police officer identified as ACP Atine targeted Mr Sowore, who alongside other activists were protesting against the worsening security situation in Nigeria at Unity Fountain in Abuja.
“People were assembled already, right beside the Unity Fountain, but while we were getting close, there was an intelligence information that they should lock the gate, hearing that Sowore will be participating in a protest.
“While we got there, we were trying to engage with the police officers (most senior of them) who then said it’s an order from the commissioner of police that there should not be demonstrations. We tried to contest that. In fact, we even called the CP and he said he was not aware of such order. We told them that it is unlawful and that you cannot dictate that people should not protest. Not at this particular time when insecurity, which is the major problem, is ravaging the country.
“People were converging and more persons were joining. We’ve not even started anything when this police officer, ACP Atine, mobilised police officers to the place and the first was a shot. It was directed to him — At a very close range.”
He restated that there was no engagement with the female police officer prior to the shooting.
“At that time Sowore said you just shot me and she had this look on her face like “I did.” Then they started firing canisters around,” Mr Adeyeye said.
The AAC official said unlike their previous engagement with police officers in the past, there was no provocation at all on Monday.
Meanwhile, telephone calls and texts sent to Mariam Yusuf, the spokesperson of the FCT command of the police, were yet to be responded to.
But a human rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has called on the Nigerian authorities to investigate the shooting of Sowore and crackdown on protesters.
“Nigerian authorities should immediately take concrete steps to reverse the longstanding impunity for these kinds of violations and misconduct by law enforcement agencies. Victims and their families deserve nothing less. The Guidelines on Policing Assemblies in Africa, adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, provides that “firearms must never be used to disperse an assembly. Intentional use of lethal force is prohibited unless it is strictly unavoidable to protect life,” the group wrote on social media.
BREAKING: We condemn reports that Omoyele Sowore, a journalist, and activist, was shot at by the police in Abuja this morning during peaceful protest at the Unity Fountain.
Authorities should end the crackdown on protesters, and allow people to peacefully exercise their rights.
— SERAP (@SERAPNigeria) May 31, 2021
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