Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria has condemned the warning of Lagos Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, against End SARS protest on October 20.
Falana, who made the remark in a statement on Thursday, said the Police lacked the power to ban public protests in Nigeria.
Recall that groups and individuals are planning to commemorate the one year anniversary of the Lekki toll gate shooting by Nigerian Army troops.
The Lagos state police had earlier this week warned that it will “suppress planned protests” in commemoration of last year’s EndSARS protests.
The Police claimed that the planned protests may lead to a “breakdown of law and order.”
Reacting to the development, Falana said, “Police’s stance is illegal as they constitute a gross infringement of the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly guaranteed by sections 38 and 40 of the Nigerian Constitution as well as articles 9 and 10 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Act.”
“Since police permits have been outlawed and banned in Nigeria by the Federal High Court and affirmed by the Court of Appeal, the Nigeria Police Force cannot be permitted to ban rallies without a repeal of the law on public meetings, rallies and processions in the country. In other words, the ban on public protests announced by the Police Authorities cannot obliterate the constitutionally guaranteed rights of Nigerians to assemble peacefully and express themselves.
“After all, it is public knowledge that General Muhammadu Buhari (as he then was) and other leaders of the ruling All Progressive Congress who took part in public rallies against fuel hike in January 2012 and protests against insecurity in November 2014. To that extent, the Buhari administration ought to restrain the Police from banning peaceful rallies against police brutality on October 20, 2020, in any manner whatsoever and however.
“Finally, the Police and other security agencies should be reminded of the indisputable fact that neither the former British colonial police force nor the defunct neocolonial military junta succeeded in banning public protests in Nigeria.”