THE CRUDE INVASION OF EKITI STATE GOVERNMENT HOUSE BY ARMED POLICEMEN AND OTHER SECURITY AGENTS IS AN INVITATION TO ANARCHY – Mike Ozekhome
Constitutional Lawyer and Human Rights Activist
I hereby condemn in the strongest terms possible, the crude invasion of Ekiti State Government House, by armed Policemen and other security agents at the behest, instructions and guidance of the federal government under President Muhamadu Buhari, using the Police as instrument of terror. In the process of this Kamikaze-like invasion of the government house, the sitting governor, Ayodele Fayose, who is covered by immunity under section 308 of the 1999 constitution was brutally assaulted, teargassed, shot at, brutalised and injured, leading to hospitalization at the government clinic, Ado Ekiti.
The beastly conduct of the Police and the obviously acquiescing role of the federal government today, is, to say the least, most despotic, autocratic, barbaric and treasonable. What happened today was a clear attempt to overthrow a sitting governor in Nigeria, and if possible, assasinate him.
By the provisions of sections 39 and 40, of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as altered, the people of Ekiti state have the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association. The PDP in Ekiti State and its teeming supporters needed no permit from the Police before holding their peaceful rally, just like the APC led by President Muhammadu Bahuri held its on Tuesday.
The Governor of Ekiti State is the Chief Security Officer of the state and consequently, barricading the government house and meting out physical assault, inhuman and degrading treatment on the person of the governor, constitute a dangerous reminder of the gory hey days of ruthless military dictatorships in the sad history of Nigeria.
Power, it is said, belongs to God. It is only the Almighty God that can determine who becomes the next governor of Ekiti State, as desired by the people. It cannot be forced by the power of the gun or teargas. A government that wantonly tramples on the fundamental rights of its helpless citizenry can never be trusted by the same citizens.
The Court of Appeal in the case of INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE V. ALL NIGERIA PEOPLES PARTY (2007) 18 NWLR, on whether the Police have powers to stop or restrict the fundamental rights of Nigerians to freedom of expression and assembly, had famously held as follows:
“The police have no powers to stop or restrict the fundamental rights of Nigerians to freedom of expression and assembly once those rights are exercised within the ambit of the law. If the demonstrators or marchers breach any law in the course of exercising their freedom of expression and assembly the Criminal Code is there to take care of such infraction.”Per ADEKEYE, J.C.A.(P.28, Paras.F-G).
It is therefore not the law that Nigeian citizens should first obtain Police permit before exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly. What we are witnessing today, under President Muhammadu Buhari, is that Nigeria is gradually drifting to a despotic and fascist state, a situation that is most dangerous for our hard-earned democracy.
Nigerians today live in morbid fear. They are no longer free to express their opinions. The executive arm of government is now harassing, invading, intimidating and subduing every other arm of government to submission. Judgments and orders of courts are disregarded with impunity under President Muhammadu Buhari. We have witnessed increased killings of innocent Nigerians on a daily basis by herdsmen, turning Nigeria into a theatre of blood. Nothing whatsoever is being done by the government to address these ugly developments. It is the duty of the government to provide security at political rallies.
That is why section 94 of the Electoral Act, provides as follows:
“For the purpose of the proper and peaceful conduct of political rallies and processions, the Commissioner of Police in each state of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, shall provide adequate security for processions at political rallies in the States and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja”.
It is imperative for the proper and peaceful conduct of political rallies and processions, that the Commissioners of Police in each state of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, provide adequate security for processions at political rallies in the States and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Unfortunately, in the sad case of Ekiti State, the Police, rather than providing the much-needed security, turned themselves to security threats to the very Governor and people of Ekiti State, whom they bestially attacked, teargassed, shot at, dehumanised and injured.
The governor and his party members were perfectly within their rights to carry out peaceful campagins.
Section 99(1) of the Electoral Act provides as follows:
“For the purpose of this Act, the period of campaigning in public by every political party shall commence 90 days before polling day and end 24 hours prior to that day.”
It is therefore clear that the people of Ekiti State, including Governor Fayose and his party, were still legally within the permitted period of campaigns as provided for in section 99 of the Electoral Act. The crude conducts and actions of the Police today cannot be justified, whether morally, constitutionally, legally, or otherwise.
With 2019 elections around the corner, there is palpable and justifiable fear in the minds of Nigerians, given the current dangerous trend of events in the polity. If 30,000 Policemen can be deployed to one state (Ekiti), for a mere governship election, and put the entire state in mental and pysical seige, when such number is not deployed to flash points where Nigerians are being massared on a daily basis, how many Policemen, soldiers and fighter jets would we require for the 2019 Presidential and NASS elections? Your guess is as good as mine. Let this government gurantee Nigerians’ rights to freely elect their leaders. Ekiti state is a good point to start with. The whole world is watching and listening.
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