THE Protest called by the founder of SaharaReporters Group and Convener of the #RevolutionNow Movement, Mr. Omoyele Sowore might have failed in the South East and South South, but there are no indications that it was not a popular call.
Sowore, the detained presidential candidate of Action Alliance (AA) had called on Nigerians to majorly protest the non-credible 2019 election, end to corruption and oppression, and ineptitude of leadership.
Instructively, the Revolution Now protest did not take place in the South East and most of South South states.
In the commercial cities of Aba and Onitsha, few people were aware of any protest. Umuahia, the Abia State capital was as peaceful as Awka, Enugu, Owerri or any state capital in the South East.
The Public Relations Officer of Abia State Police Command, DSP Geoffrey Ogbonna, said, “there is no part of the state where protest is taking place.”
The Executive Director of the Initiative for Ideal Development and Emancipatory Leadership in Nigeria (IDEAL Nigeria), Barrister Innocent Anozie Nwokocha,
Nwokocha, said: “I have never really seen any place where the protest is taking place but I support it.
Faulting the arrest of Sowore over his call for the protest, Nwokocha said, “when viewed properly, every Nigerian is entitled to peaceful demonstration. The truth of the matter is what is a revolution compared to the mass rally that Buhari conducted in 2011. The question is what is the content of this particular movement now and the content of the rally in 2011? It is the same.
“This one is coming from the civil society, condemning the incessant killings and the economic downturn in the country. In 2011, it was the killings by Boko Haram and the hardship faced by most Nigerians under the the PDP government. Is anything different?”
The Chairman, Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) in Anambra, Comrade Vincent Ezekwueme pointed out the gap between the organisers of the protest and activists in Onitsha. Admitting his support for the protest, he noted that, “we don’t have the details of arrangements, nobody consulted us with the details, we are just seeing things on the media but nevertheless we are in support of the protest.”
Demanding the release of Sowore from detention, he said, “the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria allows freedom of speech, freedom of association, expression and protest against bad governance, against insecurity, against killings and kidnappings that have been going on in the country, against unemployment and oppression in any form insofar as the protest is violent free.“
In Rivers State and Cross River State, there was a strong display of force to forestall and solidarity.
The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike dissociated the State from “any group agenda,” and asked the security agencies to foil any attempt to protest in the state.
“Rivers State does not subscribe to what the RevolutionNow protest represents and Rivers is not part of the protest,” Wike said.
The Chairman of Rivers State Coalition of Civil Societies, Enefa Goergewill, said that civil society groups in the state had the previous day, failed to arrive at a consensus at a meeting of civil society groups in Port Harcourt.
There was a heavy presence of a combined team of security men on major roads and strategic places.
Faulting the force of arms displayed by the government, he said that “the ‘Revolution Now Protest’ was not designed to forcibly change the current government but simply to clamour for a change of policies that were not favourable to the masses.”
The Police in Cross River State came out in their numbers, armoured personnel carriers and were positioned at strategic locations in the state, detaining a journalist and some protesters in the process.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Irene Ugbo said, “I don’t know the situation, I’m not in the office, but if at all he was arrested, he will be released.”