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Civil Society In Kaduna Condemns Illegal Police ‘Ban’ On Rallies And Social Gatherings

Civil Society organizations and movements in Kaduna State have strongly condemned the ban by the state government on all rallies and social gatherings, describing it as illegal and unconstitutional.

Civil Society organizations and movements in Kaduna State have strongly condemned the ban by the state government on all rallies and social gatherings, describing it as illegal and unconstitutional.

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Yesterday, Olufemi Adenaike, the Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, announced, "Henceforth, no individual, groups or associations shall hold meetings, rallies or assemblies without the prior consent of the police Command.”

Leading the condemnation, Comrade Shehu Sani, President of Civil Rights Congress stressed in a statement that the order is unconstitutional and illegal.

“It violates the fundamental rights of citizens to freedom of assembly and of speech. The order is an affront against civil rights and political rights of our people. It is a tyrannical diktat reminiscent of the dark and despicable era of military despotism.”

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He reminded the government that the 1999 constitution of Nigeria and the recent Supreme Court ruling guarantees all Nigerians the right to assemble and express opinions without censure or license from security agencies or the ruling party.

“Violence in Kaduna or any part of Northern Nigeria should not be an expedient excuse to extinguish the flames of freedom,” Sani argued. “A democratic state must learn to balance its security exigencies with its obligation to principles of freedom. Security agencies under a democracy should defend our constitution and not regulate or dictate our freedom. We need no permit to assemble or to speak, this is a free and democratic state; the order issued by the security agents is antithetical and diabolical to the spirit of democracy.”

In its reaction, the Center for Development and Rights Advocacy (CEDRA) in Southern Kaduna also rejected the ban.

In a statement signed by its spokesman, Dr. John Danfulani, the group condemned the order in its entirety.

“This statement is a gross infringement of citizenry fundamental human rights, freedom of speech, association and rightful assembly in tandem with principles of democracy and also other international conventions and treaties which Nigeria is a signatory,” CEDRA said.   

“We find it contradictory and something fishy, because it was the same Commissioner of Police that denied that there was no commotion on Saturday during a Peace and Unity Rally at Murtala Muhammad Square, Kaduna, only to come out again to use the said commotion as basis of banning lawful and peaceful assembly in the state.”
 
The university lecturer and former Ahmadu Bello University Student Union Government leader drew attention to the situation in Southern Kaduna region of the state, where over 500 people have been killed since 2011, saying that the Police Command and other security agencies cannot claim to be ignorant of the lingering killings in particular.

“Yet, there is no end in the perennial killings which they ought to bring to an end, rather than delving into unjustifiable security action. Furthermore, we wish to reiterate here that the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has given every citizen the rights to assembly and association hence the order issued by the Commissioner of Police of Kaduna State Command must be reversed without any condition.  Nigeria is in a democratic era and citizens have rights to association and assembly, as contained in the constitution.  Security agencies must as a matter of fact and in carrying out their constitutional responsibility, avoid carrying out actions that have political undertones.”