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Sowore, police differ on alleged attack at Abuja protest ground

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Sowore

• Na’Abba, Utomi, Adams condemn disruption, urge probe
• Lawyers kick, charge govt on respect for human rights

Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), yesterday, disagreed over alleged shooting of the rights activist by a female officer at the Unity Fountain, Abuja demonstration ground preparatory to a June 12,2021 nationwide protest to bring to the front burner those issues ailing Nigerians.

While the former presidential candidate is insisting that he was shot by a certain ACP Atine and being treated at the hospital for the wounds, the force maintained that that it only dispersed the motley crowd through teargas canister to restore orderliness.

In a tweet, Sowore claimed: “Just shot by a police officer, ACP Atine, at the Unity Fountain in Abuja. Let the struggle continue even if they take my life.”

Footage from a viral video showed the journalist and his team chanting solidarity songs before officers stormed the venue amid sounds before Sowore reportedly collapsed to the ground.

One of his lawyers, Inibehe Effiong, told The Guardian that the “closeness of the shot revealed that the former presidential candidate was specifically targeted by the police.”

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The attorney added: “He (Sowore) is being treated at the hospital. Sowore went to the Unity Fountain for some sorts of sensitisation to the June 12 protest. The place was sealed and they were not giving access. While they were talking with the police officers he met there, a different team arrived and a senior officer who I understand is an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) targeted Sowore and fired a canister at close range. It was not accidental. He was specifically targeted.”

RESPONDING, the FCT command dismissed the claims.

The Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Mariam Yusuf, in a statement, stated: “Contrary to speculations, operatives professionally restored calm at the Unity Fountain following attempts by a group of protesters to incite public disturbance.”

She continued: “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. There is no record of such incident as at the time of this release.

“The command enjoins residents to remain calm and law-abiding while reaffirming its commitment to the protection of life and property within the FCT.”

ALSO yesterday, an Ibadan-based human rights notary, Femi Aborisade, condemned the alleged attack.

In a statement, the legal practitioner argued that Sowore was constitutionally entitled to peaceful protests under Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

BESIDES, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, has urged Nigerians and the international community to hold the President Muhammadu Buhari administration responsible for anything that befalls Sowore “on account of the lawful exercise of his fundamental rights.

In a statement, he called on government to allow the activist exercise his freedom as a citizen and “not to deploy the instruments of state coercion against a single individual, all in the attempt to break and silence him.”

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FURTHERMORE, the National Consultative Front (NCFront), jointly led by former House of Representatives Speaker Ghali Umar Na’Abba and Prof. Pat Utomi, and the Aare Onakankannfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, have condemned the ‘assault’ on convener of the #RevolutionNow.

In a statement signed by Head, Public Affairs Bureau, Dr. Tanko Yunusa, the movement said the police should have “outgrown the sort of savagery and barbaric action in handling peaceful protests to a more professional way of guiding defenceless citizens’ protests.”

Adams, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Aderemi, flayed the force for disrupting peaceful protests and molesting protesters.

He urged investigation and trial of the perpetrators.

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