Kamarudeen Ogundele and Ramon Oladimeji
The Governor of Ekiti Stte and Chairman of the Governors’ Forum of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, has knocked the Federal Government and the Nigeria Police for planning to stop a protest for good governance by a musician, Mr. Innocent Idibia, a.k.a. 2 Face.
Also, a Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, has said nothing, including the police, can stop the planned peaceful rally being organised by the musician.
The rally, which 2face planned to lead in the Lagos metropolis next Monday, is to protest against the current economic hardship being faced by the masses.
2face had since last month began the campaign, urging Nigerians to keep a date with him as he took to Lagos streets to protest against the manner the government was handling the economy.
Earlier in the week, the musician, in a video posted on his Facebook page, explained the idea behind the rally and the need for Nigerians to join him in the peaceful protest.
But in a statement on Thursday, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, said the police would not allow the rally to hold, because it could easily be hijacked by miscreants.
“We know that 2face 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,” Owoseni said.
But Fayose said that the police’s stand was a ploy to stop a legitimate civil act.
In a press statement issued by the Special Assistant on Public Communication and New Media, Lere Olayinka, in Ado Ekiti on Thursday, the governor said, “Leadership is about accountability. To be accountable, leaders must listen to public opinion either by civil and peaceful protest.
“The court of appeal’s judgment in the ANPP vs IGP allows for such protest or gathering without police permit or interference as in advanced democracies. The protest is said to be for and about good governance. So, who is afraid of the protest? Who do the police represent in this issue?
“Nigerians are hungry and angry, our currency is above N500 to a US dollar.
“Nepotism, extrajudicial killings, disobedience to court order and human right abuse must stop. The conscience is an open wound and the guilty is afraid.”
Adegboruwa, who had earlier said he would join the 2face rally, also said the police did not have any legal backing to stop the protest and urged the police CP to study his copy of the Nigerian constitution before coming out to make such a statement.
Adegboruwa said Owoseni’s statement was an attempt to intimidate Nigerians who wish to partake in the rally, adding that it could never deter “we, veterans, and indeed the deprived, oppressed and hungry people of Nigeria.”
The lawyer said, “For the information of the police commissioner, Nigeria is a democratic country governed strictly in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
“Section 39 of the constitution grants freedom of expression, including the right to be heard and to disseminate information and ideas.
“Section 40 grants the right to associate and gather together. Section 38 grants the right to freedom of movement and peaceful assembly.
“I believe that Mr. Fatai Owoseni has a copy of the constitution, to guide his actions and utterances on this matter, instead of threatening innocent and law-abiding citizens, who are responsible for his salary.
“The issue of police permit for citizens to gather freely, expired with the coming into force of the 1999 Constitution and we cannot now go back to the military era of shutting up citizens from legitimate expressions.”
Vowing that the rally could not be stopped, Adegboruwa urged “the good people of Nigeria, especially those who reside in Lagos, to join us en mass at Ikeja, for the rally on February 6, 2017.
“We cannot be intimidated in our own country, by the same people who are paid to protect us.
“…So, come rain or shine, we shall hold the rally on Monday, as scheduled, because it is illegal for the police to seek to ban a lawful assembly.” (Punchng.com)