Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti StateEkiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose and the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) have condemned the stoppage by the Lagos State Police Command of the February 6 protest to be led by popular artiste, Innocent Idibia (aka Tuface) in Lagos over the nation’s prostrate economy.
According to Fayose, who is also Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum, the move contravened the right to freedom of assembly and association as enshrined in Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution (amended). He contended that protest or gathering do not require police permit or interference.
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, the governor noted that the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government must understand that “leadership is about accountability. To be accountable, leaders must listen to public opinion either by civil or peaceful protest.”
In a media statement signed by the National Coordinator and Media Affairs Director, Emmanuel Onwubiko and Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA reminded the police that the Court of Appeal had unambiguously nullified the draconian military era’s Public Order Act.
It added that the court of competent jurisdiction had ruled that the police cannot validly abridge the citizens’ fundamental rights to enjoy such constitutional freedoms such as right to freedom of speech, freedom of movement and right to peaceful assembly.
The rights group alleged that the state Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, was economical with the truth when he claimed that he had information that hoodlums could hijack the event.
It queried: “Why can’t the police commissioner apprehend those hoodlums and stop demonstrating a high dose of dereliction of duty by falling back on such fallacious and infantile claims to attempt to stop Nigerians from exercising their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly?”.
HURIWA, therefore, canvassed popular support and participation in the publicly organised civil rights action by all right-thinking Nigerians as championed by the top musician.