ABUJA (Reuters) – Pro-government activists in Nigeria on Monday attacked civil society protesters who were demanding the release of people they say are illegally detained, a Reuters witness said.
About 60 attackers descended on the group of around 40 protesters outside the government’s National Human Rights Commission in the capital Abuja, sending them running for safety.
The protesters were planning to deliver a list of demands to the Commission, including the release of prisoners such as activist Omoyele Sowore, founder of Sahara Reporters, an online news organization.
The attackers targeted a leader of the group, Deji Adeyanju, and chased him before beating him. Police did not immediately intervene when the attack began.
A police spokesman did not immediately respond to calls and text messages.
Adeyanju, a human rights activist who was imprisoned for more than two months this year, was taken to hospital for treatment.
Isa Sanusi, a spokesman with Amnesty International, which helped organized the protests, said the incident showed that Nigerians “no longer have the right to come out and express themselves peacefully without being attacked”.
A government supporter, Ibrahim Kabiru Dala, said: “We are here to commend the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and the security personnel … we will not allow any other foreign mercenaries or opposition to come and sabotage the government.”
Reporting By Afolabi Sotunde in Abuja; Additional reporting by Angela Ukomadu in Lagos; Editing by Giles Elgood