There have been several attempts to undermine the nationwide protests led by award-winning singer 2Face Idibia and set to go ahead on Monday 6 February.
The protests include two rallies in Lagos and Abuja. First, the Lagos police boss reportedly warned against holding the protest, but had to backtrack after facing a backlash from many Nigerians, especially on social media and civil society groups.
Then a police public relations officer’s statement yesterday “strongly advised” the protesters to “shelve” their plans “in the interest of peace and security”. The Abuja police boss also told newsmen that they would prefer the protest didn’t take place due to “security reports” suggesting “hoodlums” would hijack the protests.
However, the rights to assembly and peaceful protest are enshrined in the constitution. The police have no business trying to stop peaceful demonstrations. The Presidency also claimed that they support the right to protest and the protests should be allowed to go ahead.
This morning 2Face confirmed on Instagram that the demonstrations are going ahead as planned: “This is a pro-Nigeria protest. We have an opportunity to get our voices heard. We must use it well.”
Fellow organisers Enough is Enough Nigeria, who describe themselves as a “coalition of young Nigerians promoting good governance and citizen engagement”, followed up with a tweet with “dos and don’ts” for Monday.
— EiE Nigeria (@EiENigeria) February 4, 2017
This is very helpful advice considering police opposition to the demonstrations. Attendees should not give trigger-happy Nigerian police opportunities to ruin the day for everyone concerned. Let us hear the voices of the protesters, like 2Face said, and not the bullets of the police.