Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana has stressed that Nigerians have right to protest against any perceived injustice in the country.
Falana said this yesterday, while reacting to a statement issued by the Presidency warning Nigerians to stop protesting against the rising wave of insecurity in the country.
A Presidential Spokesperson, Mr. Shehu Garba, was quoted to have said in the warning statement that “the Presidency wishes to caution a section of the political class against misleading the public and inciting protests against the heads of military institutions.
“This has become necessary in view of received reports that about 2, 000 men and women have been hired to demonstrate against Nigeria’s service chiefs on Monday.”
Reacting to this warning, Falana in a statement issued yesterday said the Presidency has no power to stop any peaceful protest in the country.
According to him, the right to assemble and protest peaceful was won by the Nigerian people in the case of All Nigerian People’s Party v Inspector-General of Police (2008) 12 WRN 65.
The SAN urged authorities of the Nigeria Police Force not to harrass aggrieved Nigerians for protesting against perceived injustice in the country.
“The authorities of the Nigeria Police Force are urged not to harrass aggrieved Nigerians for protesting against the perceived injustice in the country. After all, a group of citizens was allowed to demonstrate in Abuja last week in support of the prosecution of the counter-insurgency operations by the service chiefs.
“On that occasion, the group called on the federal government to expel Amnesty International from Nigeria for criticising the service chiefs. Without any evidence whatsoever the Presidency has alleged that those who are calling for the replacement of the service chiefs are working for the Boko Haram sect.”
“However, since Nigerians have the fundamental rights to demonstrate for or against the federal government without official fiat, the Presidency has no power to stop any peaceful protest in the country.
“In fact, the right to assemble and protest peacefully was won by the Nigerian people in the case of All Nigerian People’s Party v Inspector-General of Police (2008) 12 WRN 65. It was in exercise of the right of freedom of expression that APC leaders including Muhammadu Buhari, Chief John Oyegun, Dr. Sylvester Onu and Mr. Rotimi Amaechi had participated in the protest held at Abuja on November 20, 2014 against insecurity under the erstwhile Jonathan administration,”Falana stated.