Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), has said that the Presidency has no power to stop any peaceful protest by aggrieved Nigerians who are calling for the replacement of the service chiefs.
Mr Falana, while responding to a statement credited to a presidential spokesperson, Mr Garba Shehu, on Sunday, said Nigerians have the fundamental right to demonstrate for or against the Federal Government.
The senior lawyer quoted Mr Shehu: “The Presidency wishes to caution a section of the political class against misleading the public and inciting protests against the heads of military institutions.
“This has become necessary in view of received reports that about 2, 000 men and women have been hired to demonstrate against Nigeria’s service chiefs on Monday.”
He, however, cautioned that the Nigeria Police Force should not harass aggrieved Nigerians for protesting against perceived injustice in the country.
“The authorities of the Nigeria Police Force are urged not to harass aggrieved Nigerians for protesting against perceived injustice in the country.
“Nigerians have the fundamental right to demonstrate for or against the federal government without official fiat the Presidency has no power to stop any peaceful protest in the country.
“In fact, the right to assemble and protest peaceful was won by the Nigerian people in the case of All Nigerian People’s Party v Inspector-General of Police (2008) 12 WRN 65,” he stated.
Mr Falana noted that leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had in 2014, held a protest against insecurity.
“It was in the exercise of the right of freedom of expression that APC leaders including General Mohammadu Buhari, Chief John Oyegun, Dr Sylvester Onu and Mr Rotimi Amaechi had participated in the protest held at Abuja on November 20, 2014, against insecurity under the erstwhile Jonathan administration.”