On wednesday, 5th, of August, protesters across major cities in Nigeria converged, under the direction of the Coalition for Revolution (CORE), to rally round the streets and call upon Nigerians to stand up to bad governance.
Among the key concerns protested against by the peaceful demonstrators included bad leadership, mass looting and embezzlement of public coffers, poor infrastructure, regrettable standard of living, and excessive use of extra-judicial powers.
This protest however, did not go as scripted, as the Federal Government deployed security agents from the Department of State Services (DSS), Nigerian police and the military to round up and molest the peaceful protesters in the course of exercising their fundamental human rights of freedom of speech and assembly.
While the airwaves continue to reverberate this brutal molestation which saw the security agents mercilessly crack-down on the peaceful protesters, Daily Times takes a look at three reasons why yesterday’s episode echoed as an unnecessary show of force.
(1) Nigeria operates a democratic form of government: It would go without a saying that 1999 brought an end to long spells of military dictatorship which in truth, is largely to blame for Nigeria’s perennial stagnation despite boasting of immense natural and human resources. With the institution of a civilian regime in 1999, Nigeria became the latest Nation State to key into a democratic process which would allow the citizens to be more expressive about how they wanted their collective resources to be managed. Unfortunately, yesterday’s episode served as a reality check that the country may not be operating a democracy afterall.
(2) Deploying security agents against peaceful protesters is unconstitutional: While disseminating information with regard to the proposed demonstration, the Coalition for Revolution had made it abundantly clear that the protests would hold under very strict decorum of non-violence. To this end, the demonstration was only going to occasion itself as the exercise of Nigerians’ inalienable right of freedom of expression and assembly, which is constitutionally provided for. Again, Nigeria as a country is a signatory to several treaties which call for absolute protection and respect to citizens’ human rights. Suffice it to say that yesterday’s actions was a flagrant disregard for the nation’s grand norm as well as the rights of the Nigerian citizenry.
(3) The APC led government have once led a protest against perceived bad governance: In 2012, the then President Goodluck Jonathan administration removed subsidy for petroleum products which consequently led to an increase in the pump price of PMS. As a reaction to what was perceived to be an insensitive decision aimed at exacerbating the plight of suffering Nigerians, the All Progessives Congress staged a revolt which was tagged “Occupy Nigeria”. 8 years down the line, the same set of public officers are brutally cracking-down on Nigerians for borrowing a leaf from their playbook.