From Elohor Igbru, Abuja
As the anniversary of the EndSARS protest draws near, human rights lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana has given President Muhammadu Buhari a note of caution: “ You can’t ban public protest.”
Falana in a statement told the President to abide by his oath of office by calling the police to order not to disrupt any of the commemorative EndSARS protest scheduled for October 2021.
The Lagos state police commissioner, Hakeem Odumosu had earlier warned protesters not to engage in any form of rally or public gathering as such will be put down by the Police Command.
But Falana in a statement titled ‘Nigeria Police Force lacks power to ban public protests in Nigeria’, said Buhari once took part in public protests in 2012 and 2014 and thus should restrain the police from unleashing force against the people.
He said: “It is public knowledge that General Muhammadu Buhari (as he then was) and other leaders of the ruling All Progressive Congress took part in public rallies against fuel hike in January 2012 and protests against insecurity in November 2014.
“To that extent, the Buhari administration ought to restrain the police from banning peaceful rallies against police brutality on October 20, 2021 in any manner whatsoever and however.”
Falana noted that the law guarantees Nigerians the right to hold public meetings, rallies and processions in the country.
“The threats against peaceful rallies oozing out of the police headquarters and state commands are illegal as they constitute a gross infringement on the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly guaranteed by Sections 38 and 40 of the Nigerian Constitution as well as Articles 9 and 10 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Act.
“In view of the fact that the police authorities have been notified of the public rallies scheduled to hold on October 20, 2020 to mark the first year anniversary of the #EndSARS protests, the Nigeria Police Force is required to make arrangements for the provision of adequate security for the participants at the venues of the rallies,” Falana said.
He also asked the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Usman Alkali, to direct the Commissioners of Police to ensure that adequate security was provided for all citizens who might wish to protest against the policies of the government considered inimical to their interests.