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Our Inequality Before Police

DEBATES about the barricade of the National Assembly are more about the infringement of the rights of one arm of government to assemble.

What some consider offensive was that the executive invaded the territory of the legislature. People are aghast. We are anticipating various consequences to this abuse.

We tend to forget a couple of things, majorly, the extent the same police go, mainly, to prove our inequality before the law with their unaddressed daily abuses of peoples’ rights. We are forgiving when the rights of ordinary people are ignored; democracy is not threatened.

Daily, the gates of the National Assembly are shut to ordinary people whether they are protesters who want to use the huge forecourt of the National Assembly, created as free space for us to enjoy our right to free speech, or those bringing constituency matters to the attention of their representatives. It is never an issue.

If any of the above groups scaled the gates of the National Assembly like mere felons, police bullets would have felled them. If they survived, they could be charged for terrorism. When legislators

exercised their right to enter the premises by jumping the gates, the police watched, demobilised by the barbarity of the action and the realisation that they were dealing with people who are above the law – the lawless.

We do not support acts that erode the law and law enforcement. We are against failure of the powerful to realise that reckless law enforcement affects lives of Nigerians daily. When rights of ordinary people to health, welfare, speech, liberty, security, residency, property are abridged, the powerful ignore them.

Unfortunately, the incident at the National Assembly is being promoted as the biggest threat to our democracy. It is rated above the violation of our rights, at home, and on the streets through

self-serving governments.

According to Section 215 (3) of the Constitution, “The President or such other Minister of the Government of the Federation as he may authorise …may give to the Inspector-General of Police such lawful directions with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order.” It is not too difficult to find out who ordered barricade of the National Assembly.

However, our Constitution forbids us from finding out the reasons for such orders. Section 215 (5) states, “The question whether any, and if so what, directions have been given under this section shall not be inquired into in any court.” Will the National Assembly consider amending this section for their case?

We condemn flagrant abuses of democratic tenets by those who should uphold them and their agents, and the bold belief that these violations have no consequences.


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