Senior Advocate of Nigeria and human rights activist, Femi Falana, that president Buhari in line with the provisions of the constitution, should ban military deployments from internal operations, including protests and rallies.
He stated that civilian demonstrations and protests and political rallies fall into activities meant for the police and not the military.
Speaking at a convocation lecture at the Ekiti State University convocation ceremony, Falana, noted that to stop hoodlums from hijacking peaceful protests, rallies, and marches, the police must provide adequate security.
He said, “A few days ago, President Muhammadu Buhari publicly acknowledged that aggrieved citizens have the elemental right to exercise their freedom of expression through peaceful rallies, marches, and protests. The position of the President is backed by the provisions of Section 39 of the Constitution and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act. However, the President warned hoodlums to not hijack such protests.
“But to the utter embarrassment of the federal, some Commissioners of Police announced a ban on protests and the other sort of public meetings in many nations.
“It is time the eye of such police authorities was drawn to the case of the All Nigeria Peoples Party v. military officer of Police (2006) CHR 181. therein case, the Presiding Judge, Chicken J., declared police permit for rallies illegal and unconstitutional and proceeded to grant an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant (Inspector-General of Police) whether by himself, his agent and privies from preventing the plaintiffs and other aggrieved citizens from organizing or convening peaceful assemblies, meetings, and rallies.”
“In affirming the epochal judgment of the Federal supreme court within the case of a military officer of Police vs. All Nigeria Peoples Party (2008) 12 WRN 65 the Court of Appeal per Adekeye JCA (as she then was) held inter alia:
“The right to demonstrate and therefore the right to protest on matters of public concern are rights which are within the public interest which individuals must possess, and which they ought to exercise without impediment as long as no wrongful act is completed.
“If as speculated by enforcement agents that breach of the peace would occur, our criminal code has made adequate provisions for sanctions against the breakdown of law and order so that the need of the permit as a conditionality to holding meetings and rallies can not be justified during a democratic society.
“Because of the clear state of the law, the President should, with none further delay, prohibit armed soldiers from usurping the powers of the police by getting involved within the maintenance of internal security in any manner whatsoever and however.
“However, to stop hoodlums from hijacking peaceful protests, rallies, and marches, we turn the President to direct the Inspector-General of Police and Commissioners of Police altogether the states of the federation to suits section 94 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended which provides as follows: Notwithstanding any provision within the Police Act, the general public Order Act and any regulation made thereunder or the other law to the contrary, the role of the Nigeria police in political rallies, processions and meetings shall be limited to the supply of adequate security as provided in subsection (1) of this section.”