A Lagos-based human rights legal practitioner, Femi Falana SAN, has warned that President Muhammadu Buhari lacks the power to stop peaceful protest in the country, insisting that the Presidency has no power to stop any peaceful protest by aggrieved citizens demanding the replacement of service chiefs in the Nigerian Armed Forces.
Falana chiding the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Garba Shehu, over his statement trying to intimidate Nigerian stakeholders mobilizing to express their disappointment on the security crisis in the country, maintained that Nigerians have the fundamental right to demonstrate for or against the Federal Government. Citing Garba Shehu: “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,” Falana admonished that the Nigerian president must not obstruct the freedom of expression of citizens.
He warned that the Nigeria Police should not harass aggrieved Nigerians for protesting perceived injustice in the country.
“The authorities of the Nigeria Police Force are urged not to harass aggrieved Nigerians for protesting against perceived injustice in the country.
“Nigerians have the fundamental right 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 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,” Falana declared.
“It was in the exercise of the right of freedom of expression that APC leaders, including General Muhammadu Buhari, Chief John Oyegun, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu and Rotimi Amaechi had participated in the protest held at Abuja on November 20, 2014, against insecurity under the erstwhile Jonathan administration,” he pointed out.
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