Anti-graft organization, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), has condemned the assault on sympathizers of the online news portal, SaharaReporters, by thugs working for Mr. Bukola Saraki, the Senate President, at the Kwara State High Court in Ilorin.
The attack occurred, on Friday morning, at the hearing of the case between SaharaReporters and the Senate President.
In a statement signed by Mr. Debo Adeniran, CACOL's Executive Chairman, the organization said the development is totally unacceptable and demanded an immediate probe of the incident by the Inspector-General of Police. “We are calling on the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to immediately commission a probe into the circumstances that led to the situation of such brazenly murderous acts right in the full glare of Police officers. This is with a view to fishing out the perpetrators of the dastardly acts against innocent citizens that had every fundamental right to be at the court proceeding. Their sponsors too must be exposed to end the reign of violence with impunity at that level," CACOL said.
Justice Adeyinka Oyinloye of the Kwara State High Court, Ilorin, had in June, given a N4 billion judgment against SaharaReporters and its the publisher, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, over some stories published last year exposing Mr. Saraki's involvement in a variety of corrupt acts.
The judgment, widely described as dubious and procured, was in the suit marked KWS/23/2017 in which the news medium and its publisher were joined as defendants.
Mr. Adeniran noted that at the first hearing of Mr. Sowore and SaharaReporters' appeal, journalists' phones, cameras, and other gadgets were destroyed or seized by Mr. Saraki's supporters and SaharaReporters' sympathizers harassed and beaten up.
"Today (Friday), again, at the resumption of hearing, Bukola Saraki's thugs pounced on people right in front a contingent of the Nigerian Police. The Police went ahead to arrest Sanyaolu Juwon, a popular student activist, Olowopariju Abiola, and Ohakpougwu Chinwendu in spite of being the victims of the premeditated attack,” CACOL noted.
It recalled that when 106 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) accompanied Mr. Saraki to court during one of his corruption trials, they were not attacked by his sympathizers. CACOL reasoned that it is only the guilty that are always afraid and opt for violence. The organization called for an immediate halt to the harassment of SaharaReporters by Mr. Saraki and his agents.