The Canadian, United Kingdom and United States missions to Nigeria have separately called on law enforcement agencies to respect citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and peaceful demonstrations.
Nigerians trooped to the streets for the widely publicised June 12 protest on Saturday.
The three countries, along with the European Union’s delegation to Nigeria, and the Irish embassy in Nigeria, had issued a joint statement condemning the recent ban on Twitter in Nigeria in the past week.
PREMIUM TIMES has reported widespread attacks on peaceful protesters by security forces at different Nigerian cities during Saturday’s demonstrations.
The protesters aim to pressure President Muhammadu Buhari administration to govern the country better and address the worsening state of insecurity in the country.
Amid the reports of crackdown on peaceful protesters in Abuja and Lagos, and other parts of Nigeria, the U.S. mission to the country, tweeted on Saturday, “We’re committed to promoting democracy, transparency & accountability,” adding, “#Democracy carries responsibilities. Calm and restraint support fundamental freedoms.”
Also the Acting Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Nicolas Simard, called for restraint on the part of both the Nigerian security forces and protesters in a tweet on Saturday, noting that Nigeria’s constitution recognises the right to peaceful assembly.
“Right to peaceful assembly is also a fundamental human right protected by #Nigeria’s constitution and international human rights instruments. We call on all parties to exercise restraint and on Nigerian law enforcement agencies to remain within proportional use of force,” Mr Simard’s tweet, which was also retweeted by the Canadian High Commission to Nigeria read.
In the same vein, while celebrating Nigeria’s June 12 Democracy Day, the U.K. embassy in Nigeria asks that the right to peaceful protests be upheld.
“On #Nigeria’s #DemocracyDay, we celebrate every Nigerian who has contributed to establishing #democracy in this country and emphasise the importance of upholding its values, including the right to free expression and to peaceful protest,” the U.K. Mission to Nigeria tweeted on Saturday.
Coalition calls for respect for right to peaceful protests
A coalition of civic groups yesterday also urged the Nigerian government to respect the right to peaceful protests.
The group said Nigerians, who have chosen to protest peacefully on June 12, must be allowed to do so without harassment from security agencies.
It will be recalled that the youth-inspired #EndSARS protests against police brutality last year, was met with resistance by the government. The encounter resulted in security forces shooting at protesters on October 20, 2020 at Lekki Toll plaza, Lagos.
June 12 is celebrated as Democracy Day in Nigeria in honour of the June 12, 1993, presidential election that was won by Moshood Abiola.
The election, said to be the fairest and freest in Nigeria, was annulled under controversial circumstances by the military regime of Ibrahim Babangida. Mr Abiola later died under controversial circumstances in detention in 1998 after he was arrested by the military regime for declaring himself president of Nigeria.
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