Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has condemned the Independence Day attacks on #RevolutionNow protesters and journalists covering the peaceful protests across Nigeria, including the reported physical assault on a photojournalist with The PUNCH Newspaper, Olukayode Jaiyeola by men of the Lagos State Police Command.
The group, in reaction to the incident, said Nigerian authorities should immediately stop persistent attacks on peaceful protesters and journalists and end restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
“We are seriously concerned about Nigerian authorities’ intolerance of peaceful dissent and growing repression and restrictions on the ability of the media to perform their duties and cover protests. This is not consistent with the attitude of a government celebrating #NigeriaAt60,” SERAP said.
The group further stated that Nigerians have every reason to peacefully protest repression, and the government of President Buhari has constitutional and international human rights obligations to allow them to do so safely and without any harassment.
They added that Nigerian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release those still being detained simply for exercising their human rights.
“Journalists covering peaceful protests denouncing systemic corruption and bad governance in Nigeria must be able to do their job safely.
“Nigerian authorities have the duty to ensure the safety of journalists who are covering protests and to guarantee the right of the public to seek and receive information about these protests.
“Jaiyeola, who was part of journalists covering an October 1 protest in Lagos state, was reportedly brutalised at the Maryland area of Lagos.
“The incident happened around 12 noon when a policeman, Innocent Adadu, hit Jaiyeola’s head with a baton.
“Jaiyeola’s colleague and PUNCH reporter, Deji Lambo, who was at the scene, said Adadu hit Jaiyeola with such force that the photojournalist collapsed immediately, with blood gushing out of his injured skull,” SERAP said.
They also stated that operatives of the State Security Service (SSS) also reportedly attacked some #RevolutionNow protesters in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, adding that security agents reportedly arrested over 30 of them.