A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, has said the threat by the Lagos State Police Command concerning an anniversary EndSARS protest is illegal.
Some Lagosians had openly expressed interest in an anniversary protest which might hold on October 20 to commemorate the lives that were lost a year ago to the day.
However, the Commissioner of Police in Lagos, CP Hakeem Odumosu, on Monday warned against any planned protest in the state.
“Credible intelligence at the disposal of the command has revealed clandestine plans by some youths, individuals or groups to embark on a protest today in commemoration of the first anniversary of #EndSARS.
“The police in the state will not fold their arms and allow some misguided elements disrupt the peace and serenity currently being enjoyed in the state,” he said.
Reacting to CP Odumosu’s statement, Adegboruwa said that it was undemocratic to threaten protesters and that the police should be protecting protesters instead.
He said, “My attention has been drawn to a statement made by the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, wherein he threatened to suppress the protests planned for the commemoration of EndSARS. The commissioner stated that the police would do everything within their powers to stop the protests.
“This is not proper in a democracy, which is nurtured by the observance of the rule of law and due respect for human rights. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, grants to every citizen the freedom of expression without interference.
“The responsibility of the Police under the Police Act, 2020 is to offer protection to citizens who embark upon peaceful, civil, and lawful protests and not to threaten them.
“The deliberate act of the police to suppress lawful protests has no place in our Constitution and it should not be condoned at all. I am concerned that the Police and the government generally seem not to have learnt any lesson from the EndSARS protests of 2020, for the purpose of engaging citizens in lawful ways.
“Considering that the ruling All Progressive Congress is itself a child of protests, it is unimaginable that the same government is seeking to gag citizens from enjoying the same rights that its leaders deployed to full advantage when they were in the opposition.
“I, therefore, urge the police to exercise restraint and work with the protesters to achieve a peaceful and orderly outing and to offer them protection.
“I urge the protesters to shun all acts of violence and disruptions of business or hindrance of movement of persons, in the course of the protests.”