Kayode Jaiyeola, a photojournalist was injured on Thursday and 30 others were arrested after hundreds of protesters marched on Lagos streets against Federal Government’s policies.
Jaiyeola was hit with a baton on the head by a Police Inspector attached to the Mobile Force (PMF), Innocent Adadu, while covering the #RevolutionNow protest at Ojota.
Condemning the assault on the photojournalist, Police Commissioner Hakeem Odumosu ordered his arrest and orderly a room trial.
Odumosu, who visited the injured man at the Police Clinic in Ikeja, said the policeman acted unprofessionally.
In an interview the police chief said it was either the Inspector was overzealous or was suffering from a psychological problem.
“Firstly, we thank God that the man is alive and safe. I was on patrol when I heard about the incident and I rushed to the scene to ensure effective management. When I got there, he had been moved to the hospital and I went there to see him and ensure he was okay.
“I cannot imagine how a policeman will use a baton on someone who did nothing to him. It is completely unprofessional. It is inhumanity of man to man. It’s against what we call being civil to members of the public. The policeman has to remain in custody and undergo internal disciplinary procedure…”
In a statement by its Chairman, Mr. Abiodun Ajala, PJAN said: “The role of the media is to gather and report events in a public space. Why must an identified journalist be treated in such an animalistic manner when he is not a criminal? Even a criminal is given fair hearing until proven guilty in the court of law…
“We shall continue to be law-abiding citizens as long as the respect is mutual. Members are ready to down tool as a form of protest next time such happens.”
Agitated Nigerians took to the streets in various parts of the world in protests organised by a coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs) against recent increment in petrol pump price, electricity tariffs, insecurity, disregard for rule of law and other burning issues in the country.
A former presidential candidate, Omowole Sowore, #BringBackOurGirls activist, Aisha Yesufu, as well as Ariyo Dare-Atoye, Henry Shield, Adebayo Raphael and Deji Adeyanju of Concerned Nigerians, among others, led the protest in Abuja.
The protesters marched through Area 1 roundabout before going to the U.S Embassy, chanting anti-government songs and bearing placards with various inscriptions, such as “Buhari has failed”; and “Failed leadership has made Nigeria the capital of the world”.
They insisted that the people must be allowed to express their minds against what they called unbearable conditions they have lived through.
It was gathered that the protest also held at Life Camp, Jabi, Kuje, Kwali, Kubwa, Gwagwalada and Lugbe.
Addressing the crowd, Sowore said: “In 1960, the reason we are in this mess is because our grandfathers were afraid of the police. Ten years later, we had a civil war because our fathers were afraid to take the right step. It is 2020; they want us to be afraid again, they want us to be afraid to demand for just, simple fundamental human rights.”
Yesufu said: “Whenever we walk around here, we see police and the Department of State Services (DSS). They send security agents with their guns. I will ask you: where were you when we were being kidnapped? Where were you when all the bad things were happening in Nigeria? You come out with your guns, you tell us you are men, you tell us you are women. But you’re all weak. The President’s office is not bigger than the citizens. You should always put the people first.”
In Lagos, the protest, which started around 9 a.m at Ojota, was initially resisted by policemen from the Area ‘F’ Command, Ogudu, who arrested about 30 persons. Undeterred, the protesters chanted solidarity songs, marched to Maryland, but were dispersed by security agents.
Addressing reporters during the protests, one of the protesters, Proficience Olagogu, said: “We are here to protest the increases in fuel, electricity tariffs and VAT. We are also protesting against insecurity, violation of over 42 court orders by President Buhari, including detaining El-Zakzaky and Mubarak Bala. We are demanding their release and the reversal of all the increments made recently.
Another protester, Ade Adewunmi, said: “We in #RevolutionNow are telling them that this country belongs to everybody. They arrested 21 of us this morning at Ojota. We are going to Area F Police Command now,” he said.
A woman, Mariam Wahab, said she joined the protest because her son had remained unemployed after she obtained loans to train him in school.
In Badagry, youths urged the government to “Fix Badagry Expressway” called for the release of a protester, identified as Mark Akande, from police detention.
In Osogbo, the Osun State capital, some youths, under the aegis of Coalition for Revolution, staged a peaceful protest and demanded the reversal of the price increases..
The Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Olanipekun, who was driving through Ola-Iya Road in the ancient town, stopped his convoy and identified with the #RevolutionNow protesters.
He said: “This protest is right. It will correct the anomaly in this country. I support your action. God bless you.”
The youths, who converged on Nelson Mandela Freedom Park at the Old Garage in Osogbo around 9 a.m, were dispersed while about 20 of them were arrested and beaten up on the scene.
A leader of the protesters, Victor Abiodun, said: “Today, we are celebrating our own 60th Independence Day on the streets. We are saying no to the present state of Nigeria. We are saying no to insecurity, poor health care system and others. The present government is treating Nigerians with the highest level of impunity.”