Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), on Sunday, called on the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to ensure that right of Nigerians to demonstrate against undesirable official policies was respected by the police force.
Falana in a statement also called on the Adamu to restrain the men and officers of the Force from getting involved in disputes between various factions of the political class.
He said “definitive pronouncement of the apex court” had made it mandatory constitutional duty of the members of the Nigeria Police Force to maintain neutrality and impartiality in political matters”.
He urged the IGP to “henceforth restrain the police from getting involved in political disputations among the various factions of the members of the political class.”
“At the same time, the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people to demonstrate against official policies that are considered inimical to the interests of the nation must be respected by the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies in the country,” he added.
He expressed concern about what he described as “the proclivity of the Nigeria Police Force to engage in the unwarranted harassment and intimidation of the perceived opponents of President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling party.”
He stated, “In a number of states the Nigeria Police Force has arrested, detained and charged some journalists with terrorism before the Federal High Court for criticising the President and ministers, state governors and commissioners.
“Sometime last month, the Katsina State Police Command arrested a 75-year-old man, Lawal Abdullahi for ‘insulting’ President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State.
“The septuaganarian was hurriedly charged before a Magistrate Court which convicted him and made him to pay a fine of N70,000 on him. To prevent him from being sent to jail we had to pay the fine.”