By Adebisi Onanuga
Activist lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has asked the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to apologise to protesters who were arrested during the June 12 Anniversary at the weekend for violating their rights to freedom of expression.
Falana, who is the Interim Chair, Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB), in a statement on Sunday, said the Police must apologise to the protesters who were later set free, having admitted that they committed no crime.
He said: “Since the protesters who were arrested during the peaceful rallies did not commit any offence, they have since regained their liberty. But the Police authorities ought to apologise for violating the fundamental rights of the protesters to freedom of expression.
He said: “More so that the Police had deliberately contravened Section 83 (4) of the Police Establishment Act 2020 which provides that “Where a person or organisation notifies the police of his or its intention to hold a public meeting, rally or procession on a public highway or such meetings in a place where the public has access to, the police officer responsible for the area where the meeting rally or procession will take place shall mobilise personnel to provide security cover for the meeting, rally or the procession.
“Section 36 of the Constitution, which guarantees the fundamental right of the Nigerian people to freedom of expression, including the right to protest against policies of the government considered inimical to their interests.”
He noted that the Police, in violation of their constitutionally protected right, banned rallies and protests throughout the country on that day.
“But the illegal order of the Police Authorities was rightly defied by thousands of citizens who took advantage of June 12 celebrations to participate in peaceful rallies held in many cities yesterday. For having the audacity to insist on their fundamental right to protest against unpopular policies of Governments team
“As if the unprovoked attack was not enough the Police brutalised and arrested scores of protesters in Lagos, Abuja and Calabar,” he added.