By Bartholomew Madukwe
LAGOS— A lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana, SAN, has said President Muhammadu Buhari should be embarrassed at the manner the police treated protesters under the aegis of OurMumuDonDo movement.
The protest, which started last Monday, has seen the protesters asking President Muhammadu Buhari to either resume work or resign, following his over three months stay in London, United Kingdom, on medical vacation.
The police, however, disrupted the protest on Tuesday, on the grounds that it would be hijacked by hoodlums.
But Falana in a statement issued, Suday, gave instances where the President led protests as a private citizen without harassment or assault from the police.
He said: “It is pertinent to remind the presidency and the Nigeria Police Force that President Buhari had, in the recent past, taken part in peaceful rallies in Abuja to protest alleged manipulation of election results and perceived injustice in the country.
“It is on record that as he exercised his fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly with other Nigerians on such occasions he was never subjected to any form of assault or intimidation by the police.”
He also urged the Inspector General of Police to apologise to leader of the protest, Charles Oputa,aka Charly Boy.
“By providing ‘adequate security’ for the pro-Buhari demonstrators while harassing the anti-Buhari protesters the police engaged in the violation section 42 of the constitution, which has prohibited discrimination on grounds of political opinion.
“To that extent, the authorities of the Nigeria Police Force should apologise to Mr. Charlie Oputa and other members of the ‘our mumu don do’.
“No doubt, the violent disruption of the anti-Buhari rally ought to have embarrassed President Buhari who had advised President Yar’Adua, in a similar situation, to step aside as he could no longer discharge the duties and functions of his office.”
He gave the example of a September 2003 protest by the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party, ANPP, which was disrupted.
He said: “The police authorities justified the disruption by claiming that the organizers of the rally did not obtain a police permit.
“Completely aggrieved by the action of the police, Muhammadu Buhari and other leaders of the ANPP instructed our law firm to sue the inspector general of police to justify the legal validity of asking for police permit before protesting against the government.”
He said the presiding judge of the case had identified protests as a recognised form of expression in a democracy.
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