By Emma Njoku
Senior Advocate of Nigeria and rights activist, Femi Falana, has called on the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to apologise to popular musician, Charles Oputa, better known as Charly Boy and other members of #OurMumuDonDo protesters over treatment meted to the group by the police during their protest in Abuja last week.
Falana said President Muhammadu Buhari should be embarrassed over the manner the police treated #OurMumuDonDo protesters.
The group had on Monday last week began its protest with a call on the president to resume or resign if he could no longer lead the country.
On Tuesday, officers of the police force disrupted the protest, claiming to have received a hint that it was going to be hijacked by hoodlums.
Falana, in a statement yesterday, cited instances where President Buhari led similar protests as a private citizen without harassment or assault from the police.
“It is pertinent to remind the presidency and the Nigeria Police Force that President Buhari had, in the recent past, taken part in peaceful rallies in Abuja to protest alleged manipulation of election results and perceived injustice in the country.
“It is on record that as he exercised his fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly with other Nigerians on such occasions, he was never subjected to any form of assault or intimidation by the police.”
The rights activist slammed the police for allegedly providing ‘adequate security’ to the pro-Buhari demonstrators while harassing the anti-Buhari protesters.
“By providing ‘adequate security’ for the pro-Buhari demonstrators while harassing the anti-Buhari protesters, the police engaged in the violation of section 42 of the constitution which has prohibited discrimination on grounds of political opinion.
“To that extent, the authorities of the Nigeria Police Force should apologise to Mr. Charlie Oputa and other members of the #OurMumuDonDo.
“No doubt, the violent disruption of the anti-Buhari rally ought to have embarrassed President Buhari who had advised (former) President Yar’ Adua, in a similar situation, to step aside as he could no longer discharge the duties and functions of his office,” Falana recalled.
He gave the example of a September 2003 protest by the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) which was disrupted.
“The police authorities justified the disruption by claiming that the organisers of the rally did not obtain a police permit. Completely aggrieved by the action of the police, Muhammadu Buhari and other leaders of the ANPP instructed our law firm to sue the IGP to justify the legal validity of asking for police permit before protesting against the government.”
Falana recalled that the presiding judge of the case had identified protests “as a recognised form of expression in a democracy.”