By Kunle Adedoyin and Temitope Owotoki
Several protesters were arrested at the National Stadium in Lagos Monday after a crowd gathered to begin #RevolutionNow, a series of planned protests against bad governance in Nigeria.
Omoyele Sowore, a key organiser of the protest, was arrested early Saturday morning.
Protesters in Lagos, who started to assemble at the stadium in Surulere as early 8am on Monday were dispersed by armed police officers who fired tear gas to unsettle them.
At least nine people, including a journalist with Sahara Reporters, owned by Sowore, were arrested and taken away by the police.
Those arrested include Victor Ogungbenro (Sahara Reporters staff), Segun Babatunde Osunla, Gabriel Ojumah, Ehis Omohomio, Aniobi Stanley, Elias Ozikpu, Kenechukwu Ukachukwu, Banwo Olagokun, and Sanyaolu Juwon.
More than 20 police patrol vehicles and armoured personnel carriers, as well as anti-riot and civil defence officers and operatives of the Military Joint Taskforce, were stationed at the two main entrances to the stadium.
A police officer at the Area C Police Command Office said they were awaiting the directive of the Area Commander on the arrested protesters.
In Ibadan, a combined team of security operatives Monday morning took over the main entrance of the University of Ibadan to preempt the protest.
The men from the Police, State Security Service, Nigerian Army, NSCDC and Oyo State combined security team codenamed “Operation Burst” had, as early as 6;30 a.m. taken over the gate in anticipation of the protest march.
However, the security agents did not prevent movement despite their heavy presence.
There was no sign of protest as the combined security team were monitoring the situation from about 300 metres in front of the university.
The heavy presence of security operatives around the main gate caught many students, lecturers and other visitors to the university unaware.
The police in Oyo State had earlier warned residents to steer clear of the planned protest.
Police Spokesperson in the state, Olugbenga Fadeyi, in a statement on Monday, said the police would not fold their arms and allow any group to cause anarchy in the state.
Fadeyi in the statement described the group behind the planned public action as illegal.
“The Commissioner of Police in Oyo State, Shina Olukolu wishes to inform the entire citizens of this state to disregard the above-captioned message and video trending on the social media being circulated by a faceless group called “Global Dilation for Security and Democracy in Nigeria and other.
“It is an illegal group attempting to incite the generality of the people to join a planned ‘Revolution’ March Against the Federal Government of Nigeria today Monday 5th August 2019 mainly to force a regime change in the country. This is against the law of the land.
“The Police in Oyo State will not fold its arms and allow any individual or group to create anarchy, chaos and acts that can lead to the breakdown of law and order.”
In the Federal Capital Territory, a few protesters defied the heavy rainfall to gather in front of the National Human Rights Commission’s office.
The protesters chanted “Freedom comes by struggle by struggle” and demanded the release of Mr Sowore.
One of the protesters, who identified himself as Comrade Raphael, addressed the protesters.
“We have gathered here because we know that Nigeria is in danger,” he said.
“We have decided that every part of the country must participate in the Revolution Now protest.
“In this country, there must freedom to voice our dissatisfaction and let the government know when it goes wrong.
“We have decided to go on with the process because we know that Rome was not built in a day. The freedom Nigeria needs is one the one that can happen if we all fold our hands and watch,” he said.
Another protester, who identified himself as Comrade Ariyo, condemned the government for tagging the protest a violent one.
“We have intelligence that some compromised Nigerians have been paid to attack us during this protest so that it will be labeled a confrontation.
“We are peaceful people. This is a revolution against corrupt ruling elites,” he said.