It is with deep consternation that we view the attacks and arrests of peaceful protesters in some parts of the country by security agencies and military personnel on Monday during a protest by some Nigerians in Lagos, Osogbo, Ibadan, Abuja and other cities.
There is nowhere in our constitution or laws that security agencies are empowered to so brazenly attack peaceful protests and hound its organisers into detention as the right to peaceful protests, assembly and association is fully guaranteed by Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under sections 39 and 40.
We view the violent attack on the peaceful protesters by security forces as a total violation of the fundamental rights of not just the protesters but all Nigerian citizens as guaranteed by the constitution as well as various reported judgements of our Courts.
Besides, peaceful protests against bad governance or perceived anti-people government policies is one of the critical fundamental rights that expands the entrenchment and growth of democracy and our security agencies must not be allowed to continue to portray themselves as anti-democracy forces as the Monday attacks so clearly demonstrated.
It is much more worrisome that soldiers were deployed to attack protesters, especially in Lagos. To us, soldiers have no role whatsoever in the management of civil protest and they must be called to order by the federal government.
We also view the midnight arrest of one of leader of the protests, Mr Omoyele Sowore as an afront on his fundamental rights as well as our collective rights to freedom of expression and association as enshrined in all the international and national instruments that strengthen democracy.
His continued detention by the State Security Service lacks any justification as his actions were not in any way threats to the sovereignty of Nigeria nor the democratically constituted government of Nigeria. He was just one out of several Nigerians demanding for good governance being the minimum demand citizens can make from a government they democratically elected. Mr Sowore and other protesters were not carrying arms against the state and we, therefore, demand their immediate release unconditionally.