The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) on Wednesday condemned reported violent attacks and arrest of #RevolutionNow protesters in Abuja and other parts of the country.
The organization, in a statement issued by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, urged the Federal Government to end the use of excessive force against protesters and allow people to peacefully exercise their human rights.
The Department of State Services (DSS) had on Wednesday morning arrested the co-convener of the #RevolutionNow movement, Olawale Bakare, and six other protesters wearing orange-coloured caps around Olaiya area of Osogbo, Osun State capital.
Several protesters were also arrested by the police and the Nigerian Army in Abuja.
SERAP said: “By failing to adequately protect protesters from violent attacks, Nigerian authorities have blatantly violated their obligations under the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.
“Nobody should be arrested or subjected to torture and ill-treatment simply for taking part in peaceful protests. The authorities should stop criminalising peaceful protesters.
“Rather than suppressing peaceful protests, the authorities ought to protect peaceful protesters and ensure a safe and enabling environment for people to exercise their constitutionally and internationally guaranteed rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”
It, therefore, urged the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those arrested, promptly investigate attacks on protesters, and identify security agents suspected to be responsible and bring them to justice.
“Nigerian authorities need to take seriously the protesters’ socio-economic grievances, including by immediately taking measures to genuinely fight grand corruption, and improve access of Nigerians to basic public goods and services.
“SERAP urges the international community including the UN Human Rights Council, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the African Union and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to publicly condemn attacks on peaceful protests and to put pressure on the Nigerian authorities to effectively investigate attacks on protesters, prosecute perpetrators and to respect and protect the human rights of everyone.
“Nigerian constitution and human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party guarantee the rights to liberty and security of person, freedom from arbitrary detention, freedom of expression, and the right of peaceful assembly.”
“The UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials prohibit the use of excessive force against peaceful protesters,” the organisation added.
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