In many democratic countries, people freely express themselves in response to the policies of the government to either applaud or protest them. They may protest by embarking on strike action, sit at home, march on the streets or protest with placards or any other way they deem good.
It is freedom of expression and freedom of association which is a human right of a people. Section 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states, “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference”.
Section 40 states that “Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely, and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union, or any other association for the protection of his interests”.
If protesters are to be shut up for protecting their interests, it results to having a good number of the people subdued. For the Buhari administration, a good number of people are either killed or injured in the cause of expressing their grievance on the government.
President Buhari since he assumed office, has used the security operatives to suppress and crackdown on protesters who organise themselves in a peaceful protest but are brutally treated because they do not agree with him. The protesters have learned to carry stones to protect themselves thereby giving more reason for the riot police or the military to intervene.
In other lands, protesters are dispersed from the streets by the use of water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas. In Nigeria, live bullets are used. Soldiers are drafted in a show of force to disperse protesters which often led to many casualties and death. People are killed for expressing themselves within their constitutional rights in a democracy. The intent is to shut the people up!
Leonardo da Vinci said, “Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.”
Buhari’s administration wants absolute authority on the people. Why will he want to suppress the expression of views by the people?
In 2005, the Appeal Court judgement; INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE V. ALL NIGERIA PEOPLES PARTY (2007) 18 NWLR CA/A/193/M/05 reads, “A rally or placard carrying demonstration has become a form of expression of views on current issues affecting government and the governed in a sovereign state…”
Elie Wiesel a Romanian-born American Nobel Laureate and political activist said, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest”.
Killing protesters in a way to shut them up, tramples on their constitutional rights.
The life of a Nigerian protester is so invalid that he gets injured or losses his life protesting the wrongs he feels about the government.
He has become a double looser who fighting injustice by protesting and getting injured or losing his life in the process. Should we all be shut up in the face of this double injustice?
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