The Nigeria Police Force has defended its use of teargas on protesters, who took to the streets on June 12 to demonstrate against bad governance in the country on Democracy Day.
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Frank Mba, Police Public Relations Officer, said this on Saturday, in reaction to officers who teargassed peaceful protesters in Lagos and Abuja.
Mba, in an interview on Channels Television in Abuja, said the action of the officers was in line with international best practices of dispersing violent protests.
According to the Force PRO, the use of teargas was an isolated case in Abuja where protesters turned violent.
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However, there were no report of violence by the peaceful protesters in states where the demonstrations took place in the country.
“We had an isolated case in Abuja where some of the protesters became unruly and in line with international best practices, police fired teargas at them,” he said. “And that is an acceptable mode of engaging violent protesters anywhere in the world, whether it is in Abuja, Lagos, Paris, London, or New York or California. That is internationally accepted,” he said.
“We would have problems if we had fired live bullets at them, but when you fire teargas at protesters to disperse them, you are not in breach of any known code, either nationally or internationally.
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“I also want to use this opportunity to state clearly that no citizen, either in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano or anywhere, is currently in detention as a result of this isolated incident.
“As long as protesters conduct themselves within the confines of the law; they do not constitute themselves into nuisance, they do not breach the rights of other citizens, they do not obstruct traffic, they do not compel other citizens to join their protests, the police will largely work with them.
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“When you protest in contravention of these set of conditions I have given, clearly you are coming in direct conflict with the laws of the land, and the police will never stand by idly and watch you create problems for the entire polity.”