Lawyers Coalition urges FCTA to rescind ban on protest

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By Emmanuel Afonne

Abuja, Oct. 15, 2020 A group of lawyers under the auspices of Coalition of Public Interests Lawyers and Advocates (COPA), has urged the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) to rescind its ban on protesters demanding reform of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF).

Naija247news reports that the FCTA through its security committee had banned protest against police brutality in all parts of Abuja, citing breach of COVID-19 protocols.

The FCTA also said it banned protest in Abuja to save law-abiding citizens from inconveniences.

But the Convener of COPA, Mr Pelumi Olajengbesi, said in a statement on Thursday that the ban contravened sections 39 and 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as Amended).

Pelumi said that the people had the right to assemble and peacefully demonstrate against any policy or matter considered unfair as entrenched in the constitution.

“Furthermore, Articles 21 and 11 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right respectively provide for the right of the people to peaceful protest.

“These are laws and treaties binding on this nation which consequently mean that no restriction may be placed on the exercise of it; the above law has received judicial blessing in the case of IGP V. ANPP (2007) 18 NWLR pt.1066 457 CA.

“The FCT Minister has no power whatsoever to infringe, restrain or constrain the will and determination of the masses, especially in a time like this when the ship of the nation is sinking down a depth of no seeming return.

“Consequently, we therefore, demand that the FCT Minister reverse his stand on the issue and allow the people to demonstrate their displeasure and dissatisfaction against official rascality and reprehensive character of the officers of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS),” Olajengbesi said.

He added that COPA might be left with no other option than to seek appropriate judicial remedy against the FCT Administration, if the minister failed to address the “unconstitutional declaration”.

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