RE: Police Threat To Arrest #OccupyCBN Protesters, Rally Will Go On Tomorrow
We have read the statement issued by the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the FCT Police Command ASP AnjuguriManzah threatening to arrest and prosecute people who participate in our planned peaceful procession to the headquarters of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) with dismay and amazement at the outright falsehood and anti-democratic tendencies that displayed therein.
Contrary to the assertions of ASP Manzah, we wrote and delivered a letter addressed to the Commissioner of the FCT Police Command at 14:00hrs on 12/01/2017. The letter requested for the deployment of policemen to ensure a peaceful procession and to avoid any incidents.
The letter was delivered to Inspector Maigari who informed us that the Commissioner was not in the office at that time. He refused to sign an acknowledgment copy and requested that our representative returned to see the Commissioner.
When our representative returned he was informed that the Commissioner had not yet returned. Our representative then took Inspector Maigari’s mobile phone number – 07035666919– to enable him call and confirm whether the Commissioner had returned coming back to the FCT Police Command.
3.Our representative was still at the FCT Police Command when we discovered that the ASP Manzah had issued a statement saying the police had not been informed of the procession and threatening to arrest participants.
4.We are disappointed that the response of the Police mirrors the watery and invective filled statement issued by the Acting Director of Corporate Communication of CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, in which he alleged that our procession was sponsored by desperate forces to sabotage the economy.
5.It is disappointing that a person who occupies such a high office would publicly display such an inability to address vital economic data, many of which were issued by relevant government and regulatory agencies (including CBN itself). It is all the more disheartening that the CBN’s spokesperson completely failed, refused and/or neglected to offer any economically viable explanation for the current loss of jobs, closure of factories and spiking prices of vital products required for everyday living.
6.In closing, we wish to remind the PRO & the Commissioner of the FCT Police Command of the provisions of Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which guarantees the right to peaceful assembly for all Nigerian citizens.
This provision has been upheld by the Court of Appeal in IGP v ANPP & Ors (2008) WRN 65 where the Court of Appeal held inter alia that:
“The right to demonstrate and the right to protest on matters of public concern are rights which are in the public interest and that which individuals must possess and which they should exercise without impediment as long as no wrongful act is done.” – Per Adekeye (JCA).
The Court went further to state that:
“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 and any law or order from authority that seeks to curtail such right is null and void and of no consequence.
A rally or placard 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 thread recognized and deeply entrenched in the system of governance in civilized countries.” – Per Muhammad (JCA).
7.This judgment was one of the judgments relied on by Justice Abdul Kafarati of the Federal High Court when he declared that the attempts by the then Commissioner of Police to restrict the rights of the group – Bring Back Our Girls – to peaceful assembly were illegal, null and void.
8.It is important to advise the CBN spokesperson and other individuals who are paid by taxpayers’ funds that the right to engagement and information about government policies supersede such asinine and invective filled statements as was issued earlier on today.
9.We want to assure all willing participants in our peaceful procession that our peaceful procession will go on as planned on Friday 13 January, 2017 by 09:00am. The convening point remains in front of the Women Development Centre, Central Business District, Abuja.
God bless Nigeria
Adeyanju Deji Adeoye Adelaja