Yoruba Nation Lagos rally: Falana, Rotimi-Williams, NBA chief knock FG over crackdown on protesters 

July 5, 2021
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Yoruba Nation Lagos rally: Falana, Rotimi-Williams, NBA chief knock FG over crackdown on protesters 

Posted by News Express | 4 July 2021 | 213 times

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•Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana

By LANRE ADEWOLE, Lagos

Senior lawyers, on Saturday, unloaded on federal authorities over the bloody crackdown on Yoruba Nation agitators in Lagos. 

The crackdown recorded the death of a young female trader and multiple injuries inflicted on both innocent passers-by and the protesters at the mega rally, which was held despite being outlawed by security agencies. 

Senior Advocate of Nigeria and leading rights advocate, Mr Femi Falana, pointedly accused Lagos Police Command of premeditated murder, an accusation vehemently rejected by the force spokesperson. 

Chief Ladi Rotimi-Williams, also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, warned that crackdown would not work against a people whose mind was set on redefining their engagement with the Nigerian nation. Dr Monday Ubani, recently-inaugurated chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL) and former second Vice President of the lawyers’ body, accused the government of always orchestrating crisis during protests, like the Lagos rally. 

Rotimi-Williams asked President Muhammadu Buhari to dialogue instead of employing the crackdown tactics, noting that yesterday’s rally was by everyday Yoruba people and their future in the Nigerian context. 

He said, “The people who have braved the rain and other dangers asking for separation are the masses. They are from the grassroots and it has become a movement; an idea whose time has come. Cracking down on them won’t work. Government should have dialogue. Nigeria isn’t the only country going through this. There are other countries going through the same problems. 

“The people were not consulted whether they wanted this artificial entity called Nigeria. We have endured for too long. They should not treat us like alien forces by cracking down on the protesters. These are people whose future is in play. Where we are now is not about political party. It is a movement that concerns everyone. 

“For President Buhari, there is a limit he can go and as a God-fearing Muslim, he won’t want more deaths and I don’t think he would want to use force for the remaining two years of his presidency against those agitating. You can’t force your wife to be with you. These people are saying they don’t want to be together again. We saw them, saying so. 

“The security apparatus has failed to protect us as Nigerians. Maybe if restructuring is in process, we won’t be here today. Let everybody develop at their own pace and the name Nigeria should change. It was given to us by somebody’ girlfriend. 

“The president should approach it as a father having problem with his son. Nigeria is like an empire disintegrating. Arresting Igboho won’t solve the problem because he is one man. The people have tried, staying in for this long. Give them what they want and there would be peace. The people are right to protest. The people want freedom.”

Falana in his reaction said, “The police violated Section 83 (4) of the Police Establishment Act 2020 which has imposed a legal obligation on the police to provide adequate security for citizens who embark on peaceful rallies and protests. “Since the police had illegally dispersed the peaceful rally with canisters of teargas, the shooting of the 14-yearold trader by the police was a premeditated murder. 

“The denial of the cold murder of the trader by the police is a diversionary ploy to shield the actual culprit from prosecution. In view of the hasty denial of the police in the dastardly act, we call on the Lagos State Government to ensure that a coroner’s inquest is conducted into the reckless killing of the teenager. Ubani said the crackdown trend under Buhari was worrisome, adding that “it is the high-handedness of police that always leads to what is called breakdown of law and order during protest. 

“Government must be very careful not to give the impression that it wants to outlaw protest. Protest is one of the grains of democracy as a way of people ventilating their grievances. The duty of the police is to provide security for protesters, and not to crack down on them. 

“I find it very strange that the government is trying to outlaw protest. It is mostly when the government introduces thuggery into peaceful protest that there is a breakdown of law and order. Government must learn how to manage protest and not give the impression it wants to abolish it,” he said. (Sunday Tribune)

Source: News Express


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