Posted by News Express | 7 December 2020 | 849 times
Rights activists on Sunday faulted the Lagos State Police Command’s ban on protests and gatherings in the state.
Chairman, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resources Centre), Olanrewaju Suraj and Executive Chairman of Centre for Anti-corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) Debo Adeniran, contended the police cannot prevent people from conducting rallies, or protesting.
They said the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association remain fundamental and guaranteed by the constitution.
The Lagos State Police Command on Sunday in a statement by its spokesman Olumuyiwa Adejobi warned that no such gathering would be permitted.
Criticising the police’s position, Suraj said: “The police does not have the right to stop people from exercising their right. They don’t even have the power either under the law or whatever to prevent people from exercising their fundamental right to freedom of expression, assembly and association. For that reason, they can’t stop people from either conducting rallies, or protesting on issues that they disagree with.”
He reasoned that forcibly quashing peaceful protests would amount to resurrecting the bad police behaviour that gave rise to the campaign against brutality in the first place.
Suraj said: “The police lack the power and they cannot also again return to the situation that brought about the campaign for #ENDSARS. This is more or less like the reenactment of what led to the #ENDSARS protest and the misconception of the power of the police and where some other police officers will arbitrarily act outside their power and mandate.”
Adeniran said: “What they (police) should be talking about is that there should be no violence and that the protesters should not disturb others who don’t want to join the protest; and that is legitimate.
“The police have a duty to protect the protesters and to caution them against trampling on the rights of other people who may not be well disposed to the protest and to prevent the hijack of a peaceful protest by those who may want to foment trouble and cause destruction of life and property the way it happened the other time.”
He warned that although Nigerians have a right to protest, such right is not absolute.
Adeniran added: “It has a limit and where the right of people to protest ends is where the right of those who decide to protest starts. Nobody has the right to destroy any property or kill or maim anybody in the course of such protest.” (The Nation)
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