Nigerian police fire tear gas at protesters in Lagos

Nigerian police fire tear gas at protesters in Lagos

Nigerian security forces on Monday fired tear gas as they broke up a protest calling for “revolution” against misrule in the country after arresting the high-profile organiser.

Several dozen demonstrators gathered in the face of a heavy security deployment near the national stadium in the economic capital Lagos chanting for the release of former presidential candidate Omoyele Sowore, video broadcast live by local media showed.

The footage showed security forces firing tear gas to disperse the peaceful protest.

Omoyele Sowore, 2019 presidential candidate under the African Action Congress (AAC), founder of Sahara Reporters and leader of the #RevolutionNow movement.

A protester told reporters that officers made several arrests and fired live ammunition to disperse the crowd, wounding at least two people.

“Police officers and soldiers were shooting indiscriminately, we have at least two people I saw who were shot in the leg,” Femi Adeyeye, an activist at the demonstration said.

A spokesman for Lagos police told reporters he did not have details on the unrest or detention of any protesters.

Sowore, a fierce critic of President Muhammadu Buhari, was arrested over the weekend after announcing the “#RevolutionNow” protests across the country for Monday.

Nigeria’s security services said Sowore had “crossed the line” and was threatening public safety.

#RevolutionNow protesters confront a Nigerian police offer in Lagos, Nigeria.

“We cannot allow any person or group to foment chaos or fan the embers of revolution,” spokesman Peter Afunaya said on Sunday. 

Former military ruler Buhari, who won a second four-year term in February, faces challenges including an Islamist insurgency, a fragile economy and rife corruption.

Sowore, who runs a news website “Sahara Reporters’ that highlights alleged graft, came a distant tenth at the polls but managed to stir interest in his anti-establishment message. 

A number of prominent Nigerians, including Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, condemned his arrest.

Soyinka, in a statement carried by local media, described the move as a “travesty and violation of the fundamental rights of citizens” reminiscent of the iron-fisted rule of military dictator Sani Abacha in the 1990s.

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