The federal government of Nigeria has been at the receiving end of harsh criticisms for launching attack on protesters in Abuja on Tuesday.A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Yusuf Ali, the pan-Yoruba group, Afenirere; the Nigeria Labour Congress and civil society organisations have in separate statements, in strong terms, condemned police attack on the protesters, saying it was “primitive, outdated and a breach of the fundamental human rights.”
Recall that the police had on Tuesday attacked some protesters led by Charles Oputa, aka, Charlyboy for staging anti-Buhari protest.The coalition groups, under the aegis of Concerned Nigerians were protesting over the long absence of President Muhammadu Buhari, saying he must either return to the country or hand over power to his vice.
While charlyBoy was reportedly hit with gunbutt by a policeman, a reporter with Silverbird TV also sustained injury when the armed men dispersed them during the protest.
Reacting to the attack, Ali said, “The way our police manage protests and strikes is outdated and primitive. There is no other place in the world that when the people go on protests, the police will carry guns. The protest-control strategy of the Nigeria police is very primitive. There must be a proper training for them on how to manage protests.
“The people are right to make demands. The constitution really does not specify how long the president can be out of the country. We know that he has legitimately transmitted power.“The way to go is that there should be an amendment of the constitution that if a president or a governor is out of the country for a number of days on account of ill health, then his office becomes vacant.”
Also, the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, President, Malachy Ugwummadu, said, “The right of every Nigerian to freely associate, assemble and express themselves is guaranteed under Sections 39 and 40 of the constitution.“The police cannot infringe on the rights of citizens to freely enjoy these rights. The police also got it wrong because these people no longer need their permission to assemble. The Court of Appeal in the case of the Inspector-General of Police versus ANPP had struck out the Public Protection Order in favour of the rights of Nigerians.
“On the people’s demands, they are right because President Buhari should have long declared a state of emergency in the country’s health sector. As it is now, our health sector cannot sustain life.”The Nigeria Labour Congress, through its General Secretary, Dr Peter Ozo-Eson, said it was condemnable for the police to visit violence on citizens involved in peaceful protest.
He said, “The citizens have the right under the constitution to engage in peaceful assembly.“Any violation of that right is condemnable irrespective of the circumstance.”The Campaign for Democracy berated the police for interrupting the protest, noting that it was an act of “brutality” on peaceful citizens.
The CD President, Usman Abdul, said, “That police incursion was uncalled for. I was also at the protest and it was a peaceful walk. We have been part of this struggle since 2010 under the Save Nigeria Group.“We only assembled to protest the long stay of our president abroad, having been made a monument of tourist attractions. These are our agitations and it was unfortunate that the police came in and started their brutality.”
Also, Afenifere’s spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, said the people had the right to protest, noting that such was stated by presidential spokesmen, Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina.He said, “If the protesters destroyed public property during their protest, that is a different thing, but for the police to attack peaceful protesters is barbaric and the government should be condemned.“There were protests under the last administration and the President (Buhari) at a point participated and no one was attacked by security forces.”
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