Femi Falana, a human rights activist, has said the police lack the power to ban youths from engaging in peaceful protests.
Falana stated this on Thursday on Channels Television.
Lagos State police command, Hakeem Odumosu, had on Monday, warned that it will “suppress planned protests” in commemoration of last year’s #EndSARS protests.
Odumosu said the planned protests may lead to a “breakdown of law and order.”
However, Falana, a senior advocate, said the police’s stance is “illegal as they constitute a gross infringement of 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”.
The lawyer stressed that since the police have been notified of the public rallies scheduled to hold on October 20, it is required to “make arrangements for the provision of adequate security for the participants at the venues of the rallies.”
He called on the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba, “to direct the Commissioners of Police in all the states of the Federation to ensure that adequate security is provided for all citizens who may wish to protest against the policies of the Government which are considered inimical to their interests”.
“Since police permit has been outlawed and banned in Nigeria by the Federal High Court and affirmed by the Court of Appeal the Nigeria Police Force cannot be permitted to ban rallies without a repeal of the law on public meetings, rallies and processions in the country. In other words, the ban on public protests announced by the Police Authorities cannot obliterate the constitutionally guaranteed rights of Nigerians to assemble peacefully and express themselves,” Falana said.
“After all, it is public knowledge that General Muhammadu Buhari (as he then was) and other leaders of the ruling All Progressive Congress who 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, 2020 in any manner whatsoever and however.
“Finally, the Police and other security agencies should be reminded of the indisputable fact that neither the former British colonial police force nor the defunct neocolonial military junta succeeded in banning public protests in Nigeria.”