The Senate has condemned the action of the Nigeria Police in using force to disperse a group of protesters in Abuja campaigning against the medical vacation of President Muhammadu Buhari.
In a statement by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Dr. Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, the Senate stated that while it condemned the subject of the protest which is aimed at forcing President Buhari to either terminate his medical vacation or resign, the Upper Chamber of the Federal Legislature would not support any violation of the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.
“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 as to disturb public peace, it is not right for the police to brutalize 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 brutalize innocent protesters.
“We however urge the organizers 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,” Abdullahi stated.
Meanwhile, recounting his ordeal and others in the hands of the police, ‘Charly Boy’ Charles Oputa told journalists: “We were not even up to 10 people that set out for the Unity Fountain. When we got there, we met close to 200 policemen.
“Initially, they tried to stop us from going further. But we explained to them that ours would be a peaceful demonstration. I gave them the assurance that we were not going anywhere else and the protest would not be hijacked by hoodlums.
“Before we knew it, they started with the water cannon. Then they tear-gassed us and set their dogs against us.
“Worried, I went to one of the policemen who was standing near me and asked him why they resorted to such action. Instead of responding to me, he suddenly raised the butt of his gun and hit me in the eye.
“I saw them beating up that man (a journalist) and smashing his camera. I hope they have not killed him.
“We are coming out tomorrow. It is better they kill me now because I will never stop speaking for the masses of this country.”