Peaceful Protest And The High Handedness Of The Nigerian Security
A vast scale of protest has become so common in Nigeria and the world at large in recent years with some ignited by taking to the streets, holding placards containing several inscriptions or messages, some go in the form of guns blazing in and around the defined space of the protest.
All in all, these actions can be referred to as a protest and its objective is to cause a change either positively or negatively.
A protest can be defined as a statement or action expressing disapproval of or objection to something. In law, it could be defined as a written declaration, typically by a notary public, that a bill has been presented and payment or acceptance refused.
It can manifest in two forms which are; a peaceful and violent free protest like the Gandhi’s Salt March (1930) whose objective was the Independence of Colonial India from British Authority, and a violent protest like the Santa Cruz May Day riot, which led to the destruction of properties worth $100,000.
A protest is very essential to redefining a country’s democracy; it provides an essential voice for minority groups, it alters agenda and starts a debate in the sense that when there are enough protesters, the government feel the need to come up with reasons why all of the protesters are wrong. That is when the debate begins and the argument becomes possible.
In situations where government’s policies tend to mortgage the future of the citizenry, a simple non-violent protest can make a difference.
Recently, the Nigerian state was greeted with a show of shame and disrespect for the rule of law when the Senate President led a peaceful protest to the INEC office and a repeat of what happened in 2014 in the House of Representatives played out again; the number three man and his colleagues were allegedly tear gassed and manhandled by security agents.
Viral pictures of policemen acting like a “Pierce Brosnan” against lawmakers trended on the internet and one can’t help but wonder if we are practicing democracy or we are just “demonstrating craze” as the late famous singer Fela Anikulapo Kuti said.
Earlier this year, a co-convener of the ” bring back our girls” campaign, Madam Oby Ezekwesili went on a peaceful solo protest on the streets of Abuja, to express her displeasure over the killings in Plateau State, but the Nigerian security agencies in an unprofessional manner allegedly infringed on her right by harassing her.
In 2016, Nigerian security forces were accused of killing over 20 Biafran peaceful protesters by Amnesty International.
Video and photo footages showed these protesters were unarmed, yet their lives were snuffed out simply because they were demanding for a referendum. And one can’t help but wonder when has the demand for a referendum amount to a treasonable felony. Political ideologies vary and no one should be crucified for that.
Rather than embarking on the release of gunfire on these unarmed protesters, the government ought to come forward with superior arguments and make them see reasons why an indissoluble Nigeria is the best thing for all. This raises platforms for debates as done in advanced terrains.
The highhandedness of the Nigerian security apparatus towards peaceful protests and protesters should come to an end.
The rules of engagement should be adhered to by all security parastatals not killing or maiming peaceful protesters who are not protesting in favor of the government.
People view life from different angles and its time for the government at the center to realize this and make the country suitable for her citizens irrespective of tribes and party affiliations.