In the early hours of January 1, 2021, about seven truckloads of Nigeria’s security forces were unloaded on peaceful protesters at Gudu junction, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. The protesters were beaten to a pulp before three of them were targeted for arrest. Five of them were eventually detained by the Police; they are Omoyele Sowore; Sanyaolu Juwon, Adenola Damilare, Peter and Kemriri. We of the Movement for A Socialist Alternative (MSA) demand their immediate and unconditional release. We condemn the arrest as anti-democratic and a bad way for the Buhari-regime to start a new year with such a stark reminder of its habitual contempt for basic democratic values.

Sowore wrestled to the ground in an Abuja court by DSS operatives

News reports have confirmed that the arrested protesters were moved to Abattoir Police Station, so disreputably named for its disregard for human rights and conventional police conducts. An image of Sowore with a bloodied nose has been circulating in the media. This is yet another application of crude and maximum force to quell peaceful protests that are guaranteed by law and justified by the extent of poverty, insecurity and oppression caused by the greed and capitalist policies of the ruling class. 

We of the Movement for A Socialist Alternative (MSA) completely support the right of Sowore and others to protest at any time of the day as citizens of this country, because the politically-induced problems that afflict us do not rest even for a minute. Also, we believe the protesters were justified in reminding Nigerians of the hardships of capitalism that have followed the common people of this country into the New Year. Therefore, Sowore and other protesters do not only have the right under the law to protest at any time of the day, but their #CrossOverWithProtest was also an excellent initiative to counter the soothing lies that characterised the President’s New Year’s speech. 

The harassment, violent arrest and detention of protesters at Gudu Junction by the Police was a continuation of the repressive culture of the Buhari administration, which is fast taking on the character of a Police state with little patience for any form of dissent from an oppressed and impoverished people. This is a big threat to the working people especially as we enter a new year with its hyper-inflation and insincerity of state governors to payment of minimum wage. Workers must safeguard their right to struggle for their pay by defending the rights of others. We call on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to roundly condemn the gradual descent to dictatorship in the country. 

We declare as ridiculous the defence by the Police that the arrest was based on a distress call from residents of the Gudu axis. It would have been expected that a professional force would have turned back on discovering that the protesters were with nothing other than placards and candles. Rather the Nigeria Police in its vindictive and bullish manner descended violently on these peaceful protesters and still ridiculously sought to justify it by hiding behind a possibly non-existent distress call.

This method is quite familiar as it was similar non-existent or manufactured hoodlums that were relied upon to gun down peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate Plaza. The MSA rejects the fallacy of the police and condemns the arrest as unjustifiable. We note that very early into the new year, the Police Command, under the nose of the President, still adopts methods of police brutality that was the direct cause of the #EndSARS protest and demands of which the government has promised to implement. The people are taking note.

We hereby demand the immediate release of the detained activists. We call on all lovers of democracy to join in the condemnation of the anti-democratic and terroristic methods of the Buhari-led government. 


Dagga Tolar

Spokesperson, MSA