*No ban on peaceful protests — Presidency
*What the law says about public protest
By Charles Kumolu
BARLEY 24 hours after the Lagos State Police Command vowed to stop the planned protests against bad governance being convened by Tuface Idibia, the famous Afro-Pop artiste has vowed to go on with the exercise.
The event which was earlier scheduled to hold in Lagos only would also hold in Abuja on February 6, 2017. Tuface, who made his insistence known on his Instagram account, said the events being organised on the platform of the 2Face Foundation, would commence at 8: am in Lagos and 9: am in Abuja.
In a move indicative that the protests tagged: One Voice, One Nigeria were explicitly about Nigeria, interested participants were asked to put on green attires. Yesterday’s post to the effect that the protests would go on, was on the heels of a similar notice by a civil society organisation, Enough Is Enough, EiE.
Tuface said the protests were meant to sensitise the Nigerian authorities over the increasing hardship in the country.
The insistence by Tuface generated so many comments on his Instagram account from would-be protesters, who maintained that the grinding hardship in Nigeria made the protests inevitable.
As of the time of filing this report, the social media was abuzz with comments against the plan to stop the protest.
Instructively, those, who questioned the reasons adduced by the Police, insisted that it was the responsibility of the law enforcement agency to maintain law and order during the exercise.
Even a few, who were less sympathetic to the protests, reminded the Police that the right to protest was inalienable.
While dismissing the reasons given by the Police, others pointed at past protests which held in the country without being stopped by the law. The State Police Commissioner, Mr. Fatai Owoseni had said that Tuface lacked the capacity to contain the kind of crowd the protests would attract. “We know that Tuface does not have the capacity to contain such a crowd and we will not fold our hands and watch while things go out of hand,” he said last Wednesday.
Instructively, Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution granted the freedom of expression, including the right to be heard and to disseminate information.
Section 40 provides the freedom of association while Section 38 gave Nigerians the right to freedom of movement and peaceful assembly.
Meanwhile, the Presidency, yesterday, said it was not against the right of Nigerians to stage peaceful protests. This was made known by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, Mr. Laolu Akande.
Disclosing this on his Twitter handle, he said: “This administration will not prevent Nigerians from expressing themselves in peaceful protests, it is a fundamental right of the people. No government has ever laid out the kind of Social Investment Programme the Buhari government is now running across the nation that will touch millions.”