The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) has joined the widespread condemnation of the police for their attacks on members of a civil society group, #OurMumuDonDu at the Millennium Park in Abuja last Tuesday, stressing that it was only peacefully expressing its opinion over the continued absence of President Muhammadu Buhari from the country.
In a statement signed by CDHR President Comrade Malachy Ugwummadu, the group described the police attacks, which resulted in varying degrees
of injuries in addition to inhalation of tear gas and other poisonous substances indiscriminately shot into the air to disperse the protesters, as “repulsively reckless and a gross abuse” of the rights of the citizens.
“Sections 39 and 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) (As Amended) clearly recognize and protect the protesters’ fundamental Rights to freely express themselves and associate,” it pointed out. “The rights to the dignity of the human person S.34(1) also came under serious siege. The attack was simply an assault on peaceful protesters causing physical injuries and destruction of personal belongings and property; it was indeed
condemnable in the strongest terms.”
CDHR said it considered the excuse of the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO) in justification of the attacks of infiltration by hoodlums as an utterly unacceptable afterthought meant to create some defence of their misadventure.
It expressed regret that after 18 years of nurturing the democratic ideals of civil rights, fundamental freedoms and rule of law, the Nigerian Police is still “manifestly despotic, uncivil and lacking in the posture of modern democratic policing which is largely intelligence based,” and called for immediate reorientation of the Force to imbibe and display more civility in their operations.
"Upholding and defending the rights of citizens to fundamental Freedoms anywhere in Nigeria, CDHR urges the Police, other security agencies and State actors to refrain from all forms of Human Rights abuses and rather demonstrate reasonable commitment to addressing the disturbing security situation in the country in order to safeguard lives and property,” the group said.
“The high incidence of mob and extra judicial killings going on in Lagos against suspected kidnappers in additionally to other security challenges across the country should be enough to preoccupy the Nigeria Police Force instead of attacking armless and innocent Nigerian citizen who are merely exercise their civic responsibilities and giving concrete expressions to the fundamental rights. It should be noted that the presumption of innocence still inures in favour of every Nigerian until otherwise established by a competent court of law in accordance with S. 36(5) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999). Understandably, events of the last few days underscores the collapse of confidence of the Nigerian people in the due process of law.”
It noted that a similar situation took place on August 10 in Lagos when a group of Akwa Ibom State indigenes generally protesting the mismanagement of the resources of their state were manhandled by the police Command, adding that the rising incidence of repression by security agents of the present administration reinforces the notion that they are gradually losing grip of the affairs in the country and must stop.
“Very many Nigerian suffered and paid dearly to retrieve these fundamental rights from the ruling political class,” CDHR warned.
“In fact, in the notorious case of IGP Vs. ANPP (2007) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1066) P. 457 the Court of Appeal struck down the Public Order Act by which judgment any Nigerian can embark on any peaceful protest or march without the permission of the Nigerian Police. The refusal of the Nigeria Police to accept this as the position of the law remains challenging to comprehend.”
It urged the security agencies and the government to respect the rights and fundamental freedom of citizens and take steps to protect lives and property.