While indiscriminate killings are going in different part of the country, the Nigerian police are busy arresting innocent protesters. This is no longer about hate speech and incitement, but a deliberate attempt to suppress dissent and public demands. Nigerians had thought the federal government’s stance on protest would end with the Shiites. However, innocent members of the BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) advocacy, including former minister of education, Oby Ezekwesili, were arrested in Abuja by policemen. No excuses or reasons were given for their arrest and detention, except that it was an order from the Inspector General of Police.
Our police force seems to be shifting focus from their core responsibility of protecting lives and property to defending the federal government against public opinion and criticism. It’s almost a year ago when the same police cowed popular artiste, Tuface Idibia, into pulling out of a protest he initiated. Again, after insensitive eviction by the Lagos state government last year, residents of Otodo Gbame area of Lekki held a protest, only to be met by policemen who brutalised them like common criminals. Unfortunately, no excuse was given for any of these, but just an inhumane effort to enforce government’s mind on people.
Aside from peaceful strikes, lock-outs, non-violent positive actions and others being well-known legitimate weapons of expression in a democracy, the constitution provides for them without any inhibition. How can we claim we have a mature democracy when these crude acts of oppression persist? We have no confidence in a leader that encourages suppression, and we call on this government to regard our rights to peacefully disagree as citizens.