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June 12: CAPPA warns against clampdown on protesters, urges government to embrace true democracy

CORPORATE Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has cautioned the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) and the State Security Services (SSS) against suppressing Nigerians participating in peaceful rallies.

A statement by the non-governmental organisation, on Wednesday, June 12, was at the heel of alleged threat by the SSS and the police to prevent the planned protests by well-meaning Nigerians, labour unions, and a coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs) to mark Democracy Day.

The CAPPA further reminded authorities and security forces of their duty to protect citizens’ rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, calling for a re-evaluation and strengthening of Nigeria’s democracy to achieve sustainable national development.

On Tuesday, June 11, the SSS warned Nigerians against protesting on Democracy Day.

The Service, in a statement via its X handle, said the protests were designed with sinister objectives to coincide with the Democracy Day celebration, noting that it was an attempt to incite ‘mass disaffection.’

Meanwhile, The ICIR reports that Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), allows every person to assemble freely and associate with other persons.

“Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests,” Section 40 reads.

Also, CAPPA highlighted that despite 25 years of uninterrupted democracy in Nigeria, the persistent neglect of democratic principles had continually restricted citizens’ participation in decision-making processes and hindered significant progress.

It noted that the diversity of opinions and active participation of citizens in political processes enrich democracy and promote nation-building.

“Yet the suppression of press freedoms, arbitrary arrests and detention of journalists, and vocal citizens and critics have become increasingly reccurring instances in the country and disappointing indices that undermine the people’s power to have an equal voice in their government.

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“Indeed, we have come a long way as a people on a journey, and this day, as always, holds major significance in our history. It is a timely reminder of the resilience and bravery we embody even in the face of challenges that threaten to swallow us.

“And it is for this reason that we must continue to uphold the sanctity of our nationhood and jealously defend it from the perils that threaten its wholesomeness,” CAPPA’s Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, was quoted in the statement.

The CAPPA also urged the government to conduct a sincere assessment of Nigeria’s current status and its commitment to embracing genuine democracy.




     

     

    It argued that the foundations of democracy in Nigeria were feeble, marked by declining popular involvement in governance and unmet assurances of free and fair elections for most citizens. 

    The organisation said it had observed that the ‘declining’ unfulfilled promises had continued to fuel a rising tide of disillusionment and apathy among the population.

    “Moreso, the Nigerian state continues to operate with little or no regard for the principles of separation of powers, thereby compromising the ability of the different arms of government to self-regulate or even exert the necessary measure of checks and balances that helps to prevent the abuse of power and protect the rights and liberties of the people.

    “The result is a weak legislature, a captured judiciary, and a lawless executive revelling in impunity. Sadly, it is the Nigerian citizens who are the ultimate losers,’’ CAPPA stated.

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    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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