PROTEST BAN: “The people of Rivers state are not slaves.” Gov’t official says

PROTEST BAN: “The people of Rivers state are not slaves.” Gov’t official says

The Rivers State Government says it has banned all public protests in the state with immediate effect till further notice.

This is made known in a statement released by the state’s commissioner for information, Mr. Emma Okah. While Okah strongly affirm that the state security agencies have been directed to enforce the ban, he added that the ban is in the interest of the public peace and order of Rivers state and its people.

“All security agencies are directed to enforce the ban in the interest of public peace, safety and order in the state.

“The public is requested to comply with this interim measure as defaulters will have themselves to blame,” the statement read.

Mr Okah told PREMIUM TIMES, Friday morning, that public protest was becoming rampant in the state, and that they were election-related.

“The thing is becoming rampant now, they take over the streets, by different groups, some for and some against. And when they do this, they disrupt economic activities,”

Meanwhile, in a private chat with one of the officials of the Rivers state government, who appeared disappointed in Governor Wike’s adamance, and with his government’s recents policies, TOWN CRIER was told that Governor Nyesom Wike is desperate to silent dissents, by denying the people of Rivers state their fundamental human rights to peacefully associate and express their opinions about his policies.

“A dog destinied to miss its path will never listen to the whistle of the hunter. Governor Wike was warned against this decision. As one who has the knowledge of law, he knows the illegality. But Mr. Governor has been consumed by political desperation. Let’s see how this decision will stand. The people of Rivers state are not slaves.”

In Nigeria, Africa and throughout the world, the right to protest has been clearly established as manifestations of the right to freedom of assembly and the right to freedom of speech.

Over a decade ago, the Nigeria legal system has since upheld the right of the Nigerian people to rally and protest on matters that concerns their existence. It also abolished Police’s alleged right to stop such rallies or issue Police permit.

In Dec. 12, 2007, during a case between the All Nigeria Peoples Party v Inspector-General of Police, where the latter had sued the former for protesting without obtaining a Police Permit, upholding the argument of Barrister Femi Falana (SAN), in the leading judgment of the Court of Appeal, Mrs Adekeye, then Justice of the Court of Appeal, had said:

“A rally or playcard carrying demonstration has become a form of expression of views on current issues affecting government and the governed in a sovereign State. It is a trend recognised and deeply entrenched in the system of governance in civilised countries. It will not only be primitive but also retrogressive if Nigeria continues to require a pass to hold a rally. We must borrow a leaf from those who have trekked the rugged path of democracy and are now reaping the dividend of their experience.”

In his brief contribution to the judgment, Muhammad JCA added thus:

“In present day Nigeria, clearly police permit has outlived its usefulness. Certainly, in a democracy, it is the right of citizens to conduct peaceful processions, rallies or demonstrations without seeking and obtaining permission from anybody. It is a right guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution and any law that attempt to curtail such rights is null and void and of no consequence.”

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