Senate knocks police for assaulting anti-Buhari protesters
Barely 24 hours after siding with President Muhammadu Buhari and asking protesters to leave the recuperating President alone, the Senate has turned around to condemn the use of force by the Nigeria Police to disperse protesters. A coalition of civil society groups had massed in Abuja to protest the long absence of Buhari but the police assaulted the protesters using teargas to demobilize them.
In a statement on Wednesday by Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, the Senate said whereas it condemned the motive of the protests which was to compel President Buhari to either terminate his medical vacation and resume duty or resign, the Upper Chamber said it would not support any violation of the fundamental human rights of Nigerians. It stressed that it was within the purview of the law for people to protest peacefully.
The statement read: “While we are opposed to the subject of the protest, the Senate acknowledges the fact that the protesters have the constitutional right to gather and express their views in a manner that will not breach public peace, order and tranquility. Since the ‘Our-Mumu-Don-Do’ protesters did not conduct themselves in such a manner to disturb public peace, it is not right for the police to brutalise the people as they reportedly did yesterday.
“The police should review their rules of engagement and ensure that they are in line with that of modern democratic societies. The rights of the people should not be violated by the police employed to protect these rights. Where the police suspect that hoodlums are trying to hijack the protest, it is the duty of the police to apprehend the hoodlums and those who break the law rather than generalise and thus brutalise innocent protesters.
“We, however, urge the organisers of the protest to join other Nigerians in praying for the safe return of President Buhari. They should note that any mortal being can find himself in the situation where one needs medical attention and more time to fully recuperate. More so, when in the present case, the President complied with the provisions of the Constitution and all organs of government are not impaired nor hindered by his medical vacation.”