HUMAN rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has called on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to abide by his oath of office by calling on the police not to disrupt upcoming #EndSARS protests.
Falana, who is the Interim Chairman, Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond, said this in a statement on Thursday titled, ‘Nigeria Police Force lacks power to ban public protests in Nigeria’.
The Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Hakeem Odumosu, had said the police would not allow anyone to stage another #EndSARS protest ahead of the one-year anniversary of the protests of last year.
However, Falana said Buhari, who himself took part in protests while he was running for office, should call on the police to respect the rights of citizens.
He added, “It is public knowledge that General Muhammadu Buhari (as he then was) and other leaders of the ruling All Progressive Congress 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, 2021 in any manner whatsoever and however.”
Falana noted that the law guarantees Nigerians the right to hold public meetings, rallies and processions in the country.
“The threats against peaceful rallies oozing out of the police headquarters and state commands are illegal as they constitute a gross infringement on 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.
“In view of the fact that the police authorities have been notified of the public rallies scheduled to hold on October 20, 2020 to mark the first year anniversary of the #EndSARS protests, the Nigeria Police Force is required to make arrangements for the provision of adequate security for the participants at the venues of the rallies,” Falana said.
He, however, called on the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Usman Alkali, to direct the Commissioners of Police to ensure that adequate security was provided for all citizens who might wish to protest against the policies of the government considered inimical to their interests.
Panel proposes N304.5m compensation to police brutality victims
Meanwhile, the judicial panel of inquiry set up by the Benue State Government to investigate right abuse and brutalities by the disbanded Special Anti Robbery Squad, on Thursday submitted its report.
Submitting the report, Justice Adah Onum (retd.), said the committee received 72 petitions, maintaining that some were dismissed and withdrawn.
He said the committee discovered some cases of right abuse by men of SARS in various parts of the state and recommended the sum of N304,535,095.85 compensation to be paid to various categories of victims of police brutality in the state.
He said, “Some persons were brutally murdered by the police in cold blood, leaving families without respective heads and breadwinners.
“Some persons died in police custody, owing to complications arising from torture and/or other forms of abuse of police powers, including unwarranted denial of rights to bail.
“Some persons suffered grievous bodily hurts, or non-grievous bodily hurts, as defined under law, in the hands of the police. Some items or property were destroyed by the police or unjustly seized and confiscated by the police.”
Justice Adum added that the committee also recommended various police officers to the Attorney General of the state for discreet investigation with a view to prosecuting them for respective crimes arising from respective conducts.
Receiving the report, the state Deputy Governor, Benson Abounu, said the state government would hand over the report to the Federal Government who had given them the mandate to set up the panel.