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Friday, 7 August 2020

#RevolutionNow Protest: How We Survived DSS, Police and Military Onslaught - Chinedu Echianu

On Wednesday 5th August 2020, myself and colleague, Ojay Mathew with two others from Farinwa TV, the television arm of Vision Media Services Ltd. owners of Vision FM and Farinwata TV, left the office in an official vehicle to cover the #RevolutionNow protest in Abuja, convened by the publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore.

At some minutes past ten o'clock in the morning - our departure time - we took off to the Federal Secretariat where we intended to begin the day's business.

However, unknown to us, the Police, Military and men of the Department of State DSS had already cut short the #RevolutionNow protest; arresting and physically assaulting some of them as we later found out on social media.

Meanwhile on our way to the Federal Secretariat; we stumbled on a group of youth at the Unity Fountain, brandishing leaves plucked from nearby trees and screaming "Sai Baba!" "Sai Baba!!" in apparent opposition to the #RevolutionNow protests.

Not wanting to head back to the office without taking back any news item, we decided to approach the protesters and get some interviews from their leaders on why they were  opposing the #RevolutionNow movement.

Barely two minutes after stepping down from our vehicle, all hell was let loose. First we were cordoned off by armed DSS operatives on Power Bikes and then a detachment of Mobile policemen in Hilux Trucks joined the fray and the madness began.

The Pro-government protesters who were initially in high spirits on sighting the security agents, suddenly became agitated as they saw their members physically assaulted and hauled into the waiting trucks. As if that was not enough, a couple of gunshots were fired by the security agents, an action that was completely unnecessary as the frightened protesters were already scampering to safety in a bid to avoid arrest or get shot.

On our part, the incident took us by surprise as we ran to the adjoining bushes at the Unity Fountain in a bid to avoid getting hit by the flying bullets. Our driver was not so lucky, he jumped into the vehicle and in a bid to drive away, was obstructed by the dazed protesters and in order not to cause a bloody mayhem by running them over, he parked the car and the DSS officials and the military caught up with him, assaulted him, took his identification card and also seized our camera and tripod.

As if that was not enough, the back windshield of our vehicle was smashed with the butt of their weapon.

smashed back windshield of our vehicle
We are grateful to God for emerging from the incident unscathed, except for Ojay Mathew who had his index finger dislocated.

Meanwhile, Vision media services has written a strong worded letter of protest to the security agencies concerned, which immediately sparked an investigation to unravel the circumstances surrounding our ordeal.

We wait for the outcome of that investigation.

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