Human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, on Monday said the regime of the President, Major General Mohammadu Buhari (retd.), should be held responsible for the attack on a human rights activist, Omoyele Sowore, who only sought to exercise his fundamental human rights.
Adegboruwa, who was reacting to reports that Sowore was injured by a police officer during a protest at the Unity Fountain, Abuja, said the publisher of SaharaReporters had been “the target of criminal prosecution on account of his non-violent campaign for good governance and accountability.
Sowore was injured by a tear gas canister fired by a police operative in Abuja.
The politician was preparing to hold a rally with some associates when the incident happened at the Unity Fountain in Abuja on Monday.
Footage of the incident showed Sowore falling on the ground after the canister hit him.
But the FCT Police Command in a statement by the command spokesperson, Mariam Yusuf, denied that Sowore was shot, saying there was no record of the incident.
She said, “Contrary to the speculation, police operatives professionally restored calm at the Unity Fountain following attempts by a group of protesters to incite public disturbance.”
But Adegboruwa in a statement titled, ‘Nothing must happen to Sowore,’said, “I urge all Nigerians and indeed the international community to hold the government of President Muhammadu Buhari responsible for anything that befalls Mr Sowore on account of the lawful exercise of his fundamental rights.
“The Unity Fountain is a public place, where other citizens have held protests in support of the Buhari administration in recent past, without let or hindrance and even with police escorts.
“In the period when President Muhammadu Buhari was leading the opposition politicians, he led several protests across the country, without anyone shooting at him or other protesters.”
Adegboruwa also asked the government to leave Sowore alone and called on protesters to remain peaceful and uphold the tenets of the law.
Another legal practitioner, Pelumi Olajengbesi, also condemned the attack on Sowore.
Olajengbesi also made his position known in a statement.
“It is however saddening and indeed condemnable that such a constitutionally guaranteed movement has been greeted with a violent and brutal response by the government who, acting through its police officers, opened fire on unarmed, peaceful protesters leading to several serious injuries on citizens, including a fatal wound on the person of Omoyele Sowore,” he said.
He added, “Without mincing words, I want to reiterate that the Buhari-led administration will be held responsible and dragged before the international community should anything happen to Sowore and indeed all participants in today’s peaceful protest at the Unity Fountain, Abuja.
“The Nigerian government must do better and be more mindful of its troubling antecedents as hard of hearing and failing to distil historical hindsight from the experiences of the past.”