Police defy human rights laws, ban protests in Nasarawa

THE Nasarawa State Police Command says it has banned all forms of protests across the 13 Local Government Areas of the state.

The Command’s spokesman Ramhan Nansel, announced this in a statement on Sunday, March 26, in Lafia, the state capital.

Nansel disclosed that the development is to forestall the breakdown of law and order in the state.

The statement reads, “The Nasarawa State Police Command wishes to inform the general public that all forms of protest have been banned throughout the state.

“Therefore, all proposed protests under any guise are hereby prohibited.

“The police Command took this decision in order to prevent a breakdown of law and order and to sustain the peace currently being enjoyed in the state; as the intelligence report on security can no longer sustain any form of protest in the state.

“Consequently, parents and guardians are advised to ensure their children and wards do not violate this order as anyone caught shall be arrested and prosecuted accordingly.”

Some residents of Nasarawa have been protesting against the outcome of the just concluded governorship and state assembly elections in the state.

On March 24, women in the Akwanga area of the state stripped off their clothes in public while protesting the outcome of the poll.

The women claimed their votes did not count in the election and insisted that the Independent National Electoral Commission must nullify the governorship election results.

Meanwhile, the ban on protests by the Police contravenes Nigeria’s Constitution and international law.

Under Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), every person is entitled 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 the United Nations Human Rights law stressed on the right of peaceful assembly.

According to the United Nation law: “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. The right of peaceful assembly includes the right to hold meetings, sit-ins, strikes, rallies, events or protests, both offline and online.”

A human rights Lawyer Abdulrasaq Ahmad said although the police have the duty to maintain public safety, law and order the society, right to peaceful protest is guaranteed by sections 38, 39, 40, and 41 of the Constitution.

    “Right to protest is not expressly spelt out in the Nigerian Constitution. It can, however, be deduced from the community of rights in Chapter IV of the Constitution. For instance, the right to freedom of thought, conscience, peaceful assembly, association, and movement are all guaranteed by sections 38, 39, 40 and 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as altered), respectively.

    ”Police have the duty to maintain public safety, law, and order under Section 4 of the Police Act, 2020. It suffices to say that the rights to protest must be done within the ambits of the law to avoid the intervention of the Police.

    He further explained that there is a very thin line between lawful and unlawful gathering.

    “There is a very thin line between a lawful protest and an unlawful gathering. This explains the active involvement and participation of the police in protests across Nigeria,” Ahmad added.

    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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