2019: Niger Outlaws Thuggery at Rallies

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Abubakar Sani Bello

* Offenders may go to jail for seven years

By Laleye Dipo in Minna

Ahead of the 2019 general election, the Niger State government has outlawed thuggery and carrying of any form of firearms and other dangerous weapons including the consumption of intoxicants at venues of campaigns.

Titled: ‘A law to prohibit thuggery, use of intoxicants and for matters connected thereto 2018’ the legislation has been signed into law by Governor Abubakar Sani Bello.

The law provides among others that “anyone not being a law enforcement agent discharging his lawful duty or a person lawfully authorised to do so possesses, displays or uses weapon in a political rally, public gathering or public place commits an offence and shall, upon conviction, be punished with imprisonment for a term of not less than one year or a fine of five hundred thousand naira”.

However, a major highlight of the law is its provision that “whoever facilitates, sells or found in possession of any substance that intoxicates shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of not less than six months and not exceeding seven years and a fine of not less than two hundred thousand naira and forfeiture of the substances”.

According to the gazette, which was circulated to members of the public at a stakeholders’ meeting organised by the Niger State Commissioner of Police, Mr Paul Yakadi, “For study and implementation” anyone who “facilitates the provision of a weapon for use in a political rally, public gathering or public place commits an offence and shall upon conviction be punished with imprisonment for a term of not less than two years or a fine of one million naira.”

The law stipulates that: “All offences under this law shall be tried summarily by a magistrate court of any grade.”

In circulating the document, the police boss said he wanted “everyone to be abreast of the rules and abide with it” adding that anyone caught contravening it would be dealt with in line with the provisions of the law.

Yakadi said: “Ignorance is no excuse in law but now you know you must obey the law.”

He challenged the stakeholders, made up of leaders of political parties, local government chairmen and members of civil society groups to enlighten the public on the need to have peaceful campaigns and election in the state.

Yakadi said the police will treat all contestants equally, but advised that they should obtain permit for their rallies 72 hours before the event.