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Nigeria police disperse protesters wounding one: activists

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Convener of “#Revolution Now”, Omoyele Sowore,sits inside the Federal High Court in Abuja on February 12, 2020. – Omoyele Sowore, a fierce critic of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, was arrested in August, 2019, by the Department of State Services (DSS) secret police after urging protests under the online banner “#RevolutionNow”. (Photo by KOLA SULAIMON / AFP)


Nigerian police dispersed a crowd of protesters Monday in the capital Abuja, injuring one, according to activists.

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It was unclear what the protest was about or how many people were present but activist Omoyele Sowore, a well-known opposition figure who has organised previous protests against bad governance said he was wounded by a police officer.

Sowore posted a picture of a wound on Twitter but police have denied the reports that he was shot, saying there was “no record of such incident” at this time.

“Contrary to the speculation, police operatives professionally restored calm at the Unity Fountain following attempts by a group of protesters to incite public disturbance,” police spokeswoman Mariam Yusuf said in a statement.

“The protesters who went on the rampage were resisted by police operatives in order to prevent them from causing a breakdown of law and order,” Yusuf added.

Another activist said he saw Sowore being shot with a teargas canister live on Facebook.

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“Sowore has just been shot by a female police officer… She fired a teargas cannister directly at Sowore,” activist Inibehe Effiong said on Twitter.

One of his lawyers Marshall Abubakar told AFP he had been rushed to hospital.

“I am with him at the (hospital) theatre now trying to ascertain but it is a serious injury, a serious wound, a serious penetration,” said Abubakar.

Amnesty International Nigeria said it had received a “disturbing report that activist Omoyele Sowore was shot by the police.”

“Protesters deserved to be listened to, not shot at. We call on Nigerian authorities to investigate the incident and bring perpetrators to justice,” the rights groups wrote on Twitter.

Nigerian authorities arrested Sowore on December 31, severely beating him according to another of his lawyers, Femi Falana.

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The police officers who arrested Sowore “subjected him to severe beating and left him with bruises all over his body,” Falana told AFP.

Several hours before his arrest, the opposition leader issued a tweet calling on Nigerians to march in the street to denounce bad governance in Nigeria.

The 49-year-old was also arrested on August 1, 2019, for having called for a mass demonstration, “#RevolutionNow.” He had run for president earlier that year.

A harsh critic of president Muhammadu Buhari, he is also the founder of the online newspaper Sahara Reporters, which touts itself as an independent investigative media outlet.

He was released in December 2019, but remained accused of treason, money laundering, and cyber harassment of the head of state.

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