From Ayodele Samuel, Lagos
Two Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have condemned the alleged attack on activists and supporters of Sahara Reporters by suspected thugs in Ilorin, Kwara State during proceedings in the case involving the Publishers of the online medium and Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
The CSOs, Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED) and Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) also decried the inability of the Police and other security agencies in Kwara State to rein in the attackers.
Addressing a press conference in Lagos on Thursday, Zikrillahi Ibrahim and Olanrewaju Suraju on behalf of CHRICED and HEDA respectively said it is unimaginable that “in a democracy, citizens, student leaders, market women, artisans and journalists who converged at a court premise to observe and cover legal proceedings in the hallowed premises of court, would be brutally attacked, beaten and their clothes torn, while electronic gadgets are forcibly taken away by hoodlums.”
The online platform, Sahara Reporters and its publisher, Mr. Omoyele Sowore had approached the high court presided over by Justice Adeyinka Oyinloye through Falana and Falana Chambers, urging it to set aside its judgement of June 28, 2017 which had awarded a N4bn judgement against them.
However, the CSOs described attacks on activists and supporters of Sahara Reporters who were in court as disturbing, saying the police authorities in Kwara State looked on while violence was unleashed on innocent citizens.
“The barbaric assaults include one in which a woman activist, Funmi Jolade, was severely beaten and her clothes torn in the full glare of the police, within the the sacred precinct of Court premise”, they said.
According to them, the development in Kwara is a serious challenge to the authority, cohesion and stability of the Nigerian State.
“No group possesses the monopoly of violence; the Nigerian State, through its law enforcement institutions do not have to wait until the innocent citizens being attacked mobilise to launch reprisals before they act to stop this impunity”, the CSOs added.
They called on Police High Authorities and other security agencies to investigate this criminal breach of public peace and sanction officers, who looked on while innocent citizens were being attacked by sponsored miscreants.
“It is our considered view that dodgy role of the police in situations like what is playing out in Ilorin, is responsible for the impunity with which high and low criminals commit dastard crimes against Nigeria and its people”, the groups added.