By Bolaji Buhari
A stalwart of African Action Congress (AAC) and member of the ‘Take it Back Movement’, Mr Elias Ozikpu, on Monday said the recent #RevolutionNow march organised by the movement and some groups was not to force a takeover of government.
Ozikpu made the clarification while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
NAN reports that the #RevolutionNow march organised by AAC presidential candidate and leader of the Take it Back Movement, Mr Omoyele Sowore along with some groups was disrupted nationwide by law enforcement agents on Aug. 5.
The Department of State Services (DSS) had on Aug. 4 arrested Sowore, and has since detained him, saying the march threatened public safety and constituted act of treason.
Ozikpu, and eight others were arrested and detained by security agencies for participating in the protest, which held in spite of Sowore’s detention.
Some Nigerians have condemned security agencies for stopping the the protest and detaining some participants, saying the action violated freedom of expression of the protesters.
Others, including Mr Leonard Nzenwa, a chieftain of AAC, have faulted the revolution march, saying it was a presumptuous move to force a takeover of government.
But Ozikpu, who only regained freedom on Thursday, told NAN that the objective of the march was misinterpreted by some Nigerians, describing the arrest and detention of protesters as unfortunate.
He explained that the #RevolutionNow march was organised to put pressure on government to give governance and not to topple the government as believed in some quarters.
Ozikpu, also the Lagos Publicity Secretary of AAC, said protesters could not have planned to take over government by just calling for good governance in some locations across the country.
“Our #RevolutionNow march was misinterpreted; we were not planning to take over government but only calling for a change in governance.
“How can we take over government from the National Stadium in Surulere where the protest was most pronounced? If we really wanted to take over government, will it be at the stadium?
“I think people misunderstood us and our objective, which is a call for change in the way we do things, a call for a change in governance for the benefit of the common man.
“The stoppage of the protests midway by security agencies shows that the present government does not want people to complain or protest, and that is not right.
“Revolution in the way we have used it in the protest is a call for a better country; unfortunately, people are giving the march all sorts of meanings,” he said.
Ozikpu said the country was currently faced with many problems, including insecurity and poverty, noting it was the right of Nigerians to call on government for change in a democracy.
Giving details of his arrest and detention, the Take it Back Movement member said he and eight others were arrested at the protest ground at National Stadium, Surulere on Aug. 5.
He said three of them were identified as journalists by security agencies and were released, adding that he and five others were subsequently arraigned in court for involvement in the protest.
“The six of us were arraigned the second day at Yaba Magistrate court and after the whole thing, only one of us was able to get bail based on self recognition as he is a lawyer.
“The rest of us were sent to prison because we could not perfect our bail condition of N100,000 with two sureties.
“We were only able to do that on Thursday, and that was when we were released,” he said.
On the counter claims by Nzenwa and Sowore over the AAC’s National Chairmanship seat, Ozikpu described Nzenwa as an impostor, noting members recognised Sowore and not him.
He added that Nzenwa only wanted to capitalise the Sowore’s travail with the DSS to hijack the party.