SPN WARNS OGUN POLICE TO STOP INTIMIDATING NIGERIAN STUDENTS
PROTEST IS AN INALIENABLE DEMOCRATIC AND CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) warns the Ogun State Commissioner of Police, Edward Awolowo Ajogun, and the Ogun State Force Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, to stop intimidating and harassing Nigerian students who wish to protest the wicked and anti-people increase in petrol price from N145 to N162 and also the over 100% hike in electricity tariff. The threat of the Nigerian police is not only unlawful but also an attack on democratic rights. According to news reports, the South-West Zone of the National Association of Nigerian Students has planned a peaceful protest on Monday, September 14, 2020, to which Abimbola Oyeyemi has responded in a brutish manner with aim of intimidating Nigerian students by stating that the protest will be repressed vehemently for not securing a permit from the police. We want to remind the police that a police permit is not legally required for any peaceful protest.
The Nigeria police should stop behaving like armed uniformed thugs. We know that the police take orders from the Buhari-led repressive regime, like also obtained in the past governments; but they do not have the constitutional mandate to intimidate, harass and brutalize peaceful protesters. We call on Nigerian students and Nigerians in general not to be intimidated by the Nigerian police and should be prepared to resist all anti-people policies including deregulation and privatisation.
In the same vein, the Lagos State Police Command brutalized SPN members and other peaceful protesters on September 10, 2020, who were protesting against petrol price and electricity price hikes and in the process had 14 protesters and 4 journalists arrested and detained.
The SPN condemns the repressive and oppressive character of the police and demands they obey Section 39, 40 and 41 of the 1999 Constitution. Section 39 (1) of 1999 Constitution states that “every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference” while Section 40 states that “every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular, he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests.” Section 41 states that “Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit therefrom.”
It was on the strength of Section 39, 40 and 41 of 1999 Constitution that Justice Anwuli Chikere of the Federal High Court gave a judgement in 2004 in a matter between All Nigeria Peoples Party & Ors Vs Inspector General Police that declared the Public Order Act as illegal and unconstitutional and that peaceful protesters do not need to secure police permit before embarking on the protest. The Court of Appeal in 2007 by its Lordships (Rabiu Danlami Mohammed JSC, Olufunlola Oyelola Adekeye JSC and Abdu Aboki JSC) upheld the judgement of the Federal High court and stated that “…the Police Order Act, relating to the issuance of police permit cannot be used as a camouflage to stifle citizens’ fundamental rights in the course of maintaining law and order”.
We, as a Party, call on the working people and youth to remain undaunted and committed to the struggle to resist all anti-poor capitalist policies. However, we demand that the police and other security agencies desist from attacking protests and lawful procession. We demand the reversal of petrol price to N87 per litre and electricity tariff to N13 kwh; We demand the repair and building of new oil refineries as well as reversal of the power privatization and place the major sectors of the economy (oil and gas, banks, maritime, aviation etc.) under democratic management of workers and consumers aimed at planning production and services to meet the needs of all as against the profit of a few as we presently have it under the iniquitous capitalist system.
We reiterate our earlier call on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to mobilize for a 48-hour warning general strike as part of sustained mass actions to resist the hike in electricity tariff, increase in petrol price and other anti-poor capitalist policies.
Acting National Chairperson