Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), has said the Federal Government cannot stop Nigerians from exercising their rights to peaceful protests.
Speaking on Sunday in reaction to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Shehu Garba who cautioned against protests against heads of security agencies, Falana reminded the Government that under the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan, APC Leaders exercised their rights to peaceful protests when they protested against insecurity.
“It was in exercise of the right of freedom of expression that the APC leaders, including General Muhammadu Buhari, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Dr Sylvester Onu and Mr Rotimi Amaechi had participated in the protest held at Abuja on November 14, 2014 against insecurity under the erstwhile Jonathan administration” the human rights lawyer said.
“The authorities of the Nigeria Police Force are urged not to harrass aggrieved Nigerians for protesting against perceived injustice in the country.
“After all, a group of citizens was allowed to demonstrate in Abuja last week in support of the prosecution of the counter insurgency operations by the service chiefs.
“On that occasion, the group called on the Federal Government to expel Amnesty International from Nigeria for criticising the service chiefs.
“Without any evidence whatsoever, the Presidency has alleged that those who are calling for the replacement of the service chiefs are working for the Boko Haram sect!
“However, since Nigerians have the fundamental right to demonstrate for or against the Federal Government without official fiat, the Presidency has no power to stop any peaceful protest in the country” Falana said.