“Why is the Nigerian government intolerant of peaceful protest? What is democracy without citizens freedom to exercise their right to express how they feel about the government’s policies and programmes? Why is Nigeria’s case different? All over the world, citizens in a democratic or even quasi-democratic societies have been demonstrating against unwanted government policy actions. This madness of security operatives arresting innocent citizens and molesting peaceful protesters, therefore, should stop”
Once again, we are startled like many Nigerians and members of the international community to watch a shameful re-enactment of the government of Nigeria’s intolerance of lawful and peaceful dissent when heavily armed police operatives forcefully prevented peaceful protest against the reopening of the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos on Saturday tagged #occupyLekkitollgate movement.
There were conflicting figures by reports though, some media reports gave figures of those arrested at about 30; both persons who went to protest and others who claimed to be passers-by were among the ill-fated numbers who were reportedly arrested and molested.
What sparked off youths anger leading to the aborted protest was the fact that while an investigation into the collateral damages of October 20, 2020, by the Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry, is still on, the government decided to reopen the closed toll gate. The Lekki Toll Gate had remained closed to motorists and businesses since last year’s unfortunate incident that led to the alleged killing of unarmed protesting youths by soldiers. The development had attracted global outrage and condemnations.
The crux of the current boiling angst is that the essence of setting up the judicial panel of enquiry was to ensure that those who were brutally gunned down by heartless soldiers and others who suffered different acts of injustices get justice. Under the prevailing circumstances, the panel has not made its conclusion known to government or public.
In other words, justice has not been served yet. Why the haste to reopen the tollgate? Is the merchandise of the tollgate more important to the government than the blood of the innocent people who lost their lives fighting a just course?
Nigeria is at the crossroads today on all fronts today because many citizens and groups feel that they have not been fairly treated by successive government. Nigeria’s political temperature is currently boiling over the cauldron on APC government’s fire as a result of sore and painful imbalance sustained by blatant denial of justice and equity.
We firmly share the universal truth that peaceful protest is a democratic right and practice by citizens through which fundamental human rights are demanded and respected. Flatly and indisputably, this is a constitutionally established matter. But in Nigeria, democracy has been imperilled by this anti-democratic and human right posture of this government since inception.
Why is the Nigerian government intolerant of peaceful protest? What is democracy without citizens freedom to exercise their right to express how they feel about the government’s policies and programmes?
Why is Nigeria’s case different? All over the world, citizens in a democratic or even quasi-democratic societies have been demonstrating against unwanted government policy actions. This madness of security operatives arresting innocent citizens and molesting peaceful protesters therefore should stop.
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