by Segun Odeleye
Officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) inexplicably arrested peaceful protesters in Abuja on Wednesday. Among those arrested were blogger and writer, Japheth Omojuwa; PR professional, Uche Briggs; and Axeernah Mohammed among others.
The protesters were rallying against the continued retention of Abba Moro, the minister of interior, by the president, Goodluck Jonathan, despite the failed recruitment exercise which he coordinated, and which led to the death of 19 job seekers.
The arrested young persons were first taken to the Area 1 police station in Garki from where they were moved to the headquarters of the State Security Services (SSS).
Some prominent citizens have started reacting to the arrest of the protesters.
Former education minister, Obiageli Ezekwesili expressed her shock at the arrest and has been on a tweeting spree since then applying pressure on the security agencies to release the detained Nigerians. She said: “Are these folks so badly removed from reality? Do they know the depth of anger in Nigeria about the #NIS tragedy? Better release @omojuwa.”
She also asked her “tweeps” to “please tweet your viw on whether @omojuwa deserves to be arrested for protesting the #NIS tragedy. Thanks!” She said she will retweet every response and since then lots of her followers on Twitter have been responding with the overwhelming majority condemning the arrests.
“Every democracy that must succed must have citizens like Omojuwa and Uche Briggs, fearless in agittaing for public good. Better release them,” she said later, before adding that if she was in Abuja, she would as a concerned citizen have gone out there in their support.
Mallam Nasir Elrufai, the APC chieftain and former FCT minister who also confirmed the incident said he was in Lagos but sent lawyers to the police station where Omojuwa was being detained. He further said that “we have alerted the National Human Rights Commission of this gross violation of constitutionally guaranteed right to associate/protest.”
However, according to Elrufai, the lawyers who were sent to represent Omojuwa were denied access to him and not allowed to enter the SSS premises. He said that even “Waziri Adio, publisher of Metropole magazine has been denied access to him.” El-rufai described it a “serial violations of the constitution. We must all respond to this unlawful detention with condemnation and further action unless it abates forthwith.”
Also reacting to the arrests today was former aviation minister, Femi Fani-Kayode who called on the “federal government to release Japheth Omojuwa. He is one of the most forthright voices in the land and he cannot be silenced.”