Police cannot ban #EndSARS protests – Falana
Femi Falana, a human rights activist, claims that the police in Nigeria lack the authority to prohibit public protests.
During an appearance on Channels Television on Thursday, October 14, Falana reacted to the Lagos state police command’s threat to “suppress planned protests” in commemoration of last year’s #EndSARS protests, saying that the police’s actions are “illegal” because they “contain a gross infringement of the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly guaranteed by sectarian law.”
Since the police have been told of the public gatherings set for October 20, the senior advocate of Nigeria emphasized that they must “make plans for the provision of necessary protection for the attendees at the rallies’ places.”
He urged Mr. Usman Baba Alkali, the Inspector-General of Police, to “direct the Commissioners of Police in all states of the Federation to ensure that adequate security is provided for all citizens who may wish to protest against the Government’s policies that are considered inimical to their interests.”
“Since the Federal High Court outlawed and barred police permits in Nigeria, as affirmed by the Court of Appeal, the Nigeria Police Force cannot be allowed to ban gatherings without a repeal of the country’s law on public meetings, rallies, and processions.” In other words, the Police Authorities’ announcement of a ban on public protests cannot override Nigerians’ constitutionally protected rights to freely congregate and express themselves.
“After all, it is well known that General Muhammadu Buhari (as he was then) and other leaders of the ruling All Progressive Congress participated in public marches against fuel price hikes in January 2012 and anti-insecurity protests in November 2014.” To that end, the Buhari administration should prevent the police from prohibiting nonviolent anti-police brutality gatherings on October 20, 2020 in any way, shape, or form.
“Finally, the Police and other security forces should be reminded that neither the former British colonial police force nor the defunct neocolonial military regime were successful in prohibiting public protests in Nigeria.”