A rights organisation, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) have dragged President Muhammadu Buhari to court over alleged intimidation, harassment, and attacks on peaceful protesters campaigning against police brutality and corruption across the country.
The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN) as well as Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, were joined as co-respondents in the suit filed on Thursday at the Federal High Court in Lagos.
In the suit marked FHC/L/CS/1451/2020, the organisation is contending that people’s right to protest constitutes the very foundation of a system of participatory governance based on democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and pluralism and that failure to respect and ensure the right to peaceful protest is typically a marker of repression.
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SERAP further argued that in a democracy, people must be given the freedom to come together to express their opinions on issues they care deeply about, while the government is expected to facilitate democratic participation, and not to restrict or criminalize it.
“A protest is a form of expression of views on current issues affecting government and the governed in a sovereign state. It is a trend recognised and deeply entrenched in the system of governance in civilized countries. It will not only be primitive but also retrogressive if Nigeria continues to stifle or cripple this right.
“Peaceful assemblies can play a critical role in allowing participants to advance ideas and aspirational goals in the public domain and to establish the extent of support for or opposition to those ideas and goals,” SERAP further argued.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.