Civil society organisations and various groups look set for mass protest to be held in various states across the country and in the diaspora on Saturday (today), in commemoration of Democracy Day.
Several digital flyers, widely circulated on social media on Friday, publicised meeting points in Lagos, Gombe, Calabar (Cross River), Yola (Adamawa), Bauchi, Abeokuta (Ogun), Yenagoa (Bayelsa), Port Harcourt (Rivers), Ibadan (Oyo), Ilorin (Kwara), Enugu, Akure (Ondo), Yobe, and Zaria (Kaduna).
One poster by #RevolutionNow read, “Join the June 12 protest. No more poverty, hunger and insecurity in Nigeria… Enough Is Enough! Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come.”
Another poster for a protest in Kaiserslautern, Germany read, “Buhari must go! Let’s come together to say no to government funding terrorism: Boko Haram terrorism and banditry, one litre of petrol equals N165, bad roads, poor hospitals, kidnapping, economic recession, police brutality, disregard for the rule of law, poor health sector, poor education.”
Similar flyers targeted at protesters in New York (US), Kaduna State and the Federal Capital Territory listed the same points but added, “N30,000 minimum wage, N13.5m senators’ salary, Nigeria is over N30tn in debt.”
One poster for a protest tagged ‘Buhari Must Go Party’ was aimed at supporters in London, United Kingdom. Similar ‘Buhari must go’ posters also targeted protesters in Toronto (Canada), Austin (Texas, USA), Calabar, Kebbi, and Lagos.
However, police commands in several states across the country, including Lagos, Bayelsa, Kogi, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Ekiti and Akwa Ibom, argued that they were unaware of any planned protest in their respective states. Some states, including Oyo and Kwara.
The Police commands have said that protests in the states would be treated as illegal and met with resistance by officers.
A top police brass stated “No unlawful assembly will be allowed. We have not received any letter from any persons or group that they want to carry out a protest or rally.
So, as far as we are concerned, Saturday will be a peaceful day and people are advised to go on with their lawful business. Anyone or any group that comes out for protest without permission will be considered miscreants.
“The police authorities will not deal with such person lightly. Why are they planning to stage a protest? If they are bent on staging a protest without permission, it means they are being sponsored by people with sinister motives. Where are they trying to do that? In whose interest is the protest?”
But the civil Society Groups have replied the police, saying “The Nigeria Police has no right to tell Nigerians not to participate in protests. It is an inalienable right.
Our group will go ahead regardless of the obstacles. If the police decide to use unreasonable force, let it be known that the officers involved will be held responsible even after they retire”
The groups have also criticised the police statement, warning groups who did not obtain permits ahead of the protests, saying, “No, we do not need a police permit to protest. Even under military rule, we did not need police permits to engage in protests; it is settled in law.”