A protest is a means of expressing disapproval to policies or actions carried out or done by individuals or institutions and these protests are in the exercise of their fundamental rights of freedom of expression and assembly guaranteed by sections 39 and 40 of the 1999 Nigerian constitution.
Thus whenever a protest is to be organized , the law by virtue of section 94 (4) of the Electoral Amendment Act 2015, compels the Inspector-General of Police, Commissioners of Police in all the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory to provide adequate security for the protesters.
And I refer to the case of All Nigeria People Party & Ors (2006) CHR 181, wherein the Federal High Court struck down the provisions of the Public Order Act which required permits for public meetings and rallies.
Consequently, the court proceeded to grant an order of perpetual injunction “restraining the defendant (the Inspector-General of Police) whether by himself, his agents, privies, and servants from further preventing the plaintiffs and other aggrieved citizens of Nigeria from organising or convening peaceful assemblies, meetings, and rallies against unpopular government measures and policies.
Please note that 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.
It is a tread recognised and deeply entrenched in the system of governance in civilized countries – it will not only be primitive but also retrogressive if Nigeria continues to require a pass to hold a rally.
We must borrow a leaf from those who have trekked the rugged path of democracy and are now reaping the dividend of their experience.
WALE OGUNADE ESQ is a public affair analyst