Police cannot override Acting President •Why the mass rally will and must hold on Feb. 6, By Ebun-olu Adegboruwa
Posted by Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa | 4 February 2017 | 1,997 times
I have read in several news reports, of the statement credited to the Nigeria Police Force, advising that the mass rally against suffering and hunger in Nigeria, slated for Monday February 6, 2017, should be cancelled, purportedly in the interest of peace and security.
First, citizens do not require police advice to exercise their fundamental rights guaranteed to under the Constitution. However, it is gratifying that the police is gradually shifting from its previous position of feudal lords, by which it had threatened innocents citizens with brute force.
Second, the police has no power in law to countermand or indeed override the lawful directives of the Acting President, which has affirmed our constitutional right to assemble together freely, unhindered and unmolested, for a peaceful protest. Under section 5 of the Constitution, all executive powers of the Federation, are vested in the President, and in this present case, the Acting President, who is authorised to give lawful directives, as he has now done, to sanction peaceful and lawful protests.
Third, the Nigeria Police Force, is established under section 215(1) of the Constitution, as part and parcel of the Executive, headed by the President, in this case, the Acting President. By section 215(3), the President or Acting President shall give and issue lawful directives to the Police. By section 215(5), the directive of the President or Acting President, to the Police, cannot be questioned or disobeyed. This is so because under section 218(1), the President or Acting President, as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, has the overriding power, to determine the operational use of the Armed Forces of the Federation.
So, it is very disturbing, very alarming and indeed anachronistic, for an institution, such as the Police, that was set up to be under the Executive, headed by the President or the Acting President, to be defying the lawful directives of the Acting President, openly and with such brazen impunity. And if there is any conflict between the lawful directives of the Acting President, which has sanctioned our Rally, and that of the unlawful and unconstitutional directives of the Police, advising us to shelve the Rally, we will readily and gladly comply with that of the Acting President and proceed with our Rally on Monday, as scheduled.
Fourth, by section 14 of the Constitution, sovereignty belongs to the PEOPLE of Nigeria, not the police. So, we hereby urge the Police to join us and offer protection and covering for us, in compliance with the lawful directives of the Acting President, to help ensure a peaceful rally.
So, come want may, the people of Nigeria shall hold this and many more rallies, in the days ahead, until Nigeria is totally rid of bad governance, of blackout all over the land, of unemployment, of galloping inflation, of non-payment of salaries of workers and pensioners, of genocide and killing of innocent citizens, of the hypocrisy of change, of ineptitude and utter cluelessness, and of absentee leadership.
I urge all members of the press, to join us on Monday, with their massive presence, to expose the double standards of the APC ruling government, which climbed into power through the ladder of protest, and is now seeking to remove that same ladder from the people that helped it to climb to power.
Nigeria is our country.
•Ebun-olu Adegboruwa, eminent lawyer and activist, writes from Lekki Lagos.