THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA –
Earlier, on Wednesday, January 25, 2017, legendary Nigerian singer 2face announced his intention to lead a nationwide protest to stand against recurring poor governance in Nigeria that has continued in the current administration.
After breaking the news of the protest on social media, 2face gained a handful of supporters and critics, among common citizens, politicians and government officials.
Nigerian reggae-dancehall singer/songwriter Burna Boy declared support for the protest in series of tweets on Twitter. In one of his tweets, Burna Boy said:
‘I’m ready 2 die 4 dis sh*t.’
Popular Nigerian singer Davido also declared support for the protest in reaction to a tweet by Burna Boy. He said:
‘I galant with you my brother.. we go full ground.’
However, less than 96 hours to the protest slated for February 6, the Nigerian Police said it would not allow the protest to hold.
Lagos State Commissioner of Police Fatai Owoseni said, ‘Information reaching us revealed that some hoodlums are planning to hijack the peaceful protest and at such, we won’t allow it to hold in Lagos. We know that Tuface does not have the capacity to control such a crowd and we will not fold our hands and watch while things go out of hand.’
Owoseni insisted earlier that the protest organisers have not officially notified the police of their plan as well.
The police threatened to arrest the singer if he dares to hold the protest, according to report.
Governor Fayose of Ekiti reacted to the threat to arrest 2face if he dares to hold the protest in Lagos.
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media Lere Olayinka, Governor Fayose said:
‘The All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government must be made to understand that leadership is about accountability and to be accountable, leaders must listen to public opinion either by civil or peaceful protest.
‘Court of Appeal affirmed in its judgment in Inspector General of Police Vs All Nigerians Peoples Party that protest or gathering do not require police permit or interference as obtainable in an advanced democracy.
‘Most importantly, the protest is said to be for and about good governance. So who is afraid of the protest? Who does the police represent or is representing in this issue?’
Governor Fayose argued in support of the protest, saying:
‘Nigerians are hungry and angry, our currency is now above N500 to $1. If Nigerians want to show their anger, no one should prevent them. Nepotism, extra judicial killings, disobedience to court order and human rights abuses must stop.
‘The conscience is an open wound and the guilty is afraid. If the APC-led federal government is now acting as if the protest is against it, it means the federal government has accepted to be guilty as charged. Like I said before, I support the protest.’
Lawyer and human rights activist Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa reacted to Owoseni’s argument that protest organisers need to officially notify the police of a protest before they go ahead.
‘I have read reports credited to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police declaring that the rally slated for Lagos on Monday February 6, 2017, will not hold. I consider this to be an attempt to intimidate those who wish to partake in the rally, otherwise it cannot be a message for us veterans and indeed the deprived, oppressed and hungry people of Nigeria.
‘For the information of the Police Commissioner, Nigeria is a democratic country governed strictly in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution. Section 39 of the Constitution grants freedom of expression, including the right to be heard and to disseminate information and ideas. Section 40 grants the right to associate and gather together. Section 38 grants the right to freedom of movement and peaceful assembly. I believe that Mr Fatai Owoseni has a copy of the Constitution, to guide his actions and utterances on this matter, instead of threatening 2Baba and law abiding citizens, who are responsible for his salary.’
Ex-Niger Delta militants, several human rights organisations and some political parties have expressed support for the protest.
Despite opinion of critics and threats of police, 2face insists that the protest will hold. In a video he posted on Facebook on Tuesday, the singer urged Nigerians to come out in a ‘peaceful and articulate manner’ for the protest.
In a very recent report, the presidency indicated its first official stand on the protest since the matter went public.
The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, Mr. Laolu Akande, declared this in a tweet that read:
‘This administration will not prevent Nigerians from expressing themselves in peaceful protests, it’s a fundamental right of the people’
It is less than 54 hours to the protest day, the D-Day. So much controversies have unfolded already over the protest and emotions are very high.
A lot of Nigerians appear to be very happy to get an opportunity to express how they feel about the state of the nation to the government and to see real change happen.