• Senate, NLC condemn police brutality

Olawale Ajimotokan, Damilola Oyedele and Senator Iroegbu in Abuja

Despite their manhandling by the police, the ‘resume or resign’ protesters, for the third day wednesday hit the streets of Abuja, accused President Muhammadu Buhari of holding the nation to ransom by his absence.

They stated that acting President Yemi Osinbajo has been unable to take concrete decisions that could move the nation forward.

The group said Osinbajo could not allocate portfolios to ministerial nominees despite the transmission of power to him, stressing that this proved that Buhari’s absence was stagnating the nation.

The protesters who held a sit-out at the Unity Fountain, Maitama, Abuja, under the wary eyes of policemen, stressed that the president is not greater than the country.
The sit-out held 24 hours after the coalition members were attacked by policemen with water cannons and tear gas canisters at the same venue.

Ariyo Atoye of the Coalition in Defence Of Nigerian Democracy said Buhari was being propped up in power by a cabal that wanted to continue using his name to loot the national treasury.

“It is the cabal that wants him (Buhari) to continue in power so they could loot the treasury. They said power has fully been transmitted to Osinbajo but he could not even allocate portfolio to ministers,” he said.

A member of the BringBackOurGirls movement, Aisha Yesufu, criticised the police harassment, noting that the operatives should be deployed in the North-east region to fight Boko Haram insurgents rather than assaulting harmless youths.
She said the nation must move forward with or without the president, stressing that the country cannot afford to be held down by him.

Yesufu called on Nigerians to join the #resume or resign protests to compel the government to do the right thing.
She said: “Buhari is not greater than Nigeria and he cannot continue to hold the nation to ransom because he is ill. I once said he should resign and allow another person to take over, it is not as if we hate him, we love him and we pray for his quick recovery. It is not about a person, it is about the country; ‘our mumu don do.’

Popular artist, Charlie Boy, and Nollywood actor, Jim Iyke admonished Nigerian youths to join the campaign to demand Buhari’s return or resignation, noting that the issue is about the future and well-being of the nation.

Meanwhile, the Senate and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) have condemned the brutal use of force by the Nigeria Police last Tuesday, to disperse protesters who were demanding the resumption or resignation of President Buhari, following his prolonged medical vacation in London.
The Senate however maintained its stance opposing the calls for the president’s resignation by the #OurMumuDonDo protesters.

In a statement by its spokesman, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, yesterday, the Senate said it would not support any violation of the fundamental human rights of Nigerians for any reasons, despite its condemnation of the aim of the protest.

He also called on the police to review its rule of engagement.

Abdullahi said the protest was intended to force the president to resign or terminate his medical vacation.
The statement reads further:

“While we are opposed to the subject of the protest, the Senate acknowledges the fact that the protesters have the constitutional right to gather and express their views in a manner that will not breach public peace, order and tranquility. Since the ‘Our-Mumu-Don-Do’ protesters did not conduct themselves in such a manner as to disturb public peace, it is not right for the police to brutalize the people as they reportedly did yesterday (Tuesday),”

“The police should review their rules of engagement and ensure that they are in line with that of modern democratic societies. The rights of the people should not be violated by the police employed to protect these rights. Where the police suspect that hoodlums are trying to hijack the protest, it is the duty of the police to apprehend the hoodlums and those who break the law rather than generalise and thus brutalise innocent protesters.

“We however urge the organisers of the protest to join other Nigerians in praying for the safe return of President Buhari. They should note that any mortal being can find himself in the situation where one needs medical attention and more time to fully recuperate. More so, when in the present case, the president complied with the provisions of the constitution and all organs of government are not impaired nor hindered by his medical vacation,” it read.
Also, the NLC has condemned the use of water cannons, tear gas and other offensive means by the police to disperse peacefully protesting citizens against the absence of our president.

The General Secretary of NLC, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, in a statement yesterday, said the right to peaceful protest is guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

This right, Ozo-Eson noted, has been affirmed by the courts of the land.
He said was expected of the police, who have relatively done well with regards to public protests in recent times, was to sit it out with these protesters.

According to him, “the resort to violent dispersal is not only a violation of the rights of the protesters and norms of civilised behaviour but a smirch on the record of Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, who during his oath of office had assured Nigerians that the police under his watch would police in line with democratic culture.”
“The unnecessary violence by the police has unwittingly put the discourse of the protesters demands in the public domain. Beyond this, it is a throw-back to the dark era of police when they trampled on the rights of the citizenry considered to be in opposition to the government of the day,” he added.

To this end, the NLC scribe advised the police to respect this fundamental right of citizens to freely assemble and peacefully protest, irrespective of the subject matter of such actions.

He further stressed that it is important the authorities respect the rights of the citizenry and not abridge them at will.

“It is important to note that poor handling of a small situation could degenerate,” he said, urging the police to “do all that is necessary to avoid this in our national interest”.