The Socialist Party of Nigeria has condemned the attacks on and arrests of party members and journalists in Lagos, demanding their immediate release.
Dimeji Macaulay, National Organising Secretary of SPN, in a statement called on the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to end the use of excessive force against protesters, and allow people to peacefully exercise their human rights.
The party members and journalists were arrested by operatives of the Nigeria Police Force on Thursday while expressing their displeasure over the recent increase in petroleum price and electricity tariff.
The protesters were arrested around the Ojuelegba area of Lagos on Thursday.
The statement reads, “Total of 18 arrested including four journalists: Dagga Tolar SPN NEC member, Bar Ayo Ademiluyi, Chinedu Bosah, SPN National Secretary, Lexan Ali, Fidel Davynovich , Oluwole Engels and Hassan Taiwo Soweto, SPN National Youth Leader and eight others.
“Journalists that were arrested are Ifeoluwa Adediran of Premium Times, Abiodun Ayeoba of SaharaReporters, Awoniyi Oluwatosin of Objectv media and Daniel Tanimu of Galaxy TV whose camera was seized. Some journalist’s phones were also seized. Now at the Lagos State Police Command.
“We condemn this attack as part of the continuous descent of the country into a brutish state of military repression. It is completely unacceptable, and we enjoin all Nigerians interested in preserving this country's hard-earned democracy to condemn this emboldened descent into a civilian-military dictatorship.
“We demand a public apology from the Nigeria police for this ridiculous and unprofessional action taking against our Comrades, and we ask that proper disciplinary measures be taken on those security officers involved. We demand that the Nigeria should be free of repression and undemocratic methods.
“It’s important for you to note that Demonstrations and protests are a global phenomenon and are a part of the development of any society. It is important to note that while the police have a duty to maintain peace and order, they also ought to carry out that duty in a way that does not infringe on the rights of peaceful protesters or instills fear into the protesters who are merely seeking a means of expression their views.
“The Public Order Act provides that the convener of a protest should obtain a licence from the police 48 hours before the actual date of the protest. The license would only be granted if the protest is not likely to cause a breach of peace. It is every Nigerian’s fundamental and constitutional right to protest and organie rallies. Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides for and guarantees this right when it states that “Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely, and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union, or any other association for the protection of his interests”.
“It is an inalienable right that cannot be taken away by anyone. When such rights are infringed on, every citizen of Nigeria has the right to head to the courts to ensure the enforcement of such rights.
This position was challenged in the Court of Appeal in the case of ALL NIGERIA PEOPLES PARTY V. INSPECTOR-GENERAL OF POLICE (2008) 12 WRN 6, where the court ruled that the right to stage rallies and protests is a fundamental right and can be carried out without obtaining a police permit/license.
“We call on Trade Union Leaders to condemn this attack on democratic rights and lead Nigerians to street to reject the obnoxious increase in electricity tariff and increase in pump price.”