“There is nowhere in our constitution or laws that the 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 the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under sections 39 and 40."
The Nigeria Labour Congress has condemned the police and other security agencies in the country for the attack and arrests of protesters during Monday’s RevolutionNow march in various parts of the nation.
Founder of the movement aimed at protesting against bad governance in the country, Omoyele Sowore, was in the early hours of Saturday arrested by operatives of the Department of State Services in a Lagos hotel.
But undeterred by the arrest of their leader, members of the movement and other Nigerians poured out to the streets on Monday to voice their displeasure with the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
In a statement on Wednesday by its General Secretary, Peter Ozo-Eson, the NLC said that there was nowhere in the Nigerian constitution where security agencies were empowered to attack protesters.
The statement read, “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 the 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 the 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 the organisers of the protest, Mr Omoyele Sowore, as an affront 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 a threat to the sovereignty of Nigeria nor the democratically constituted government of Nigeria.
“We therefore demand his immediate release unconditionally, including all others arrested during the protest.”