Criticisms trail Police response to anti-Buhari protests

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The Nigerian government has come under harsh criticisms after it visited anti-Buhari protesters with harsh treatments in Abuja.
The police attacked some protesters led by Charles Oputa, aka, Charlyboy on Tuesday during a protest that sought answers from the Presidency regarding the President’s state of health and questioning his continuity in his role.
Charly Boy had fainted from the attack from Police officers which included the use of water cannons, teargas and at some point, physical assault.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Yusuf Ali, said it was a breach on the protesters’ human rights.
“The way our police manage protests and strikes is outdated and primitive. There is no other place in the world that when the people go on protests, the police will carry guns. The protest-control strategy of the Nigeria police is very primitive. There must be a proper training for them on how to manage protests.
“The people are right to make demands. The constitution really does not specify how long the president can be out of the country. We know that he has legitimately transmitted power.
“The way to go is that there should be an amendment of the constitution that if a president or a governor is out of the country for a number of days on account of ill health, then his office becomes vacant.”

Also, the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, President, Malachy Ugwummadu, said, “The right of every Nigerian to freely associate, assemble and express themselves is guaranteed under Sections 39 and 40 of the constitution.

“The police cannot infringe on the rights of citizens to freely enjoy these rights. The police also got it wrong because these people no longer need their permission to assemble. The Court of Appeal in the case of the Inspector-General of Police versus ANPP had struck out the Public Protection Order in favour of the rights of Nigerians.

“On the people’s demands, they are right because President Buhari should have long declared a state of emergency in the country’s health sector. As it is now, our health sector cannot sustain life.”

Condemnable

The Nigeria Labour Congress, said in a statement signed by the General Secretary, Dr Peter Ozo-Eson, that it was condemnable for the police to visit violence on citizens involved in peaceful protest.
He said, “The citizens have the right under the constitution to engage in peaceful assembly.
“Any violation of that right is condemnable irrespective of the circumstance.”
The Campaign for Democracy group also condemned the police for interrupting the protest, noting that it was an act of “brutality” on peaceful citizens.
 
Its President, Usman Abdul, said, “That police incursion was uncalled for. I was also at the protest and it was a peaceful walk. We have been part of this struggle since 2010 under the Save Nigeria Group.
“We only assembled to protest the long stay of our president abroad, having been made a monument of tourist attractions. These are our agitations and it was unfortunate that the police came in and started their brutality.”
Also, Afenifere’s spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, said the people had the right to protest.
He said, “If the protesters destroyed public property during their protest, that is a different thing, but for the police to attack peaceful protesters is barbaric and the government should be condemned.
“There were protests under the last administration and the President (Buhari) at a point participated and no one was attacked by security forces.”

Undeterred

However, the group said it would continue its protests despite the response from authorities.
The Senate in a statement and the President’s spokesperson Garba Shehu had said the protests were unnecessary as he had fulfilled all constitutional requirements before embarking on sick leave.
“I am disappointed in this country, but let it be known that no amount of intimidation on us by security agencies will deter us from demanding explanations from the government,” protest leader, Charly Boy.
”They must be accountable to Nigerians because they were elected into power by us, and on the basis that they will account for their actions.
”It is disheartening for the Senate that ought to ask questions to be the very ones supporting such show of shame,” he lamented.

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