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SPN condemns disruption of protest by police

By Raymond Mordi

A political association, the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) has condemned the disruption of its protest by the Nigeria police.

The protest was against the increase in petrol price from N148 to N162 per litre, the hike in electricity tariff and the deregistration of the SPN and 21 other political parties in disobedience of the Court of Appeal judgment by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

A press statement from the group described as unlawful the disruption of the protest, which started at the NLC Labour House, Yaba, Lagos.

This, it said, led to the arrest of 14 protesters and four journalists.

The statement by Acting National Chairman Abiodun Bamigboye and National Secretary Chinedu Boash said the following persons were arrested: Chinedu Bosah (National Secretary), Hassan Taiwo Soweto (National Youth Leader), Dagga Tolar (NEC member), Moshood Oshunfurewa (Lagos SPN Secretary), Ayo Ademiluyi (Lagos SPN Legal Adviser), Christopher Harry, Abisoye Kosoko, Tunde Yusuf, Akande Abiola, Ifeanyi Onwunalu, Davy Fidel, Adetunji Gbenga, Usman Khadijat, and Taiwo Alao.

It gave the names of arrested reporters as Ifeoluwa Adediran (Premium Times), Abiodun Ayeoba (Sahara Reporters), Awoniyi Oluwatosin (Objectv Media) and Daniel Tanimu (Galaxy TV).

The protesters and reporters, it added, were first taken to Lagos Police Command, Ikeja and after several hours of detention, the reporters were released while the 14 protesters were taken to the Lagos State Special Offences Court at the Task Force Oshodi and arraigned on a one-count charge of conduct likely to cause breach of peace and eventually released following the withdrawal of charges by the prosecutors.

The statement reads: “We were not surprised when the Lagos Police Public Relation officer SP Muyiwa Adejobi was reported by Punch Newspaper to have stated that the protesters did not inform the police of the protest and that protest should follow due process. We beg to differ from this colonial mentality of the police that suggests that protesters ought to inform the police or get police permit before a peaceful protest would be allowed to hold.

“Section 39 (1) of the 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.’

“It was on the strength of Section 39 and 40 of 1999 constitution that Justice Anwuli Chikere of the Federal High Court gave a judgment 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 protest. The Court of Appeal in 2007 by its Lordships (Rabiu Danlami Mohammed JSC, Olufunlola Oyelola Adekeye JSC and Abdu Aboki JSC) upheld the judgment 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…’ “

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