Something I’ve discovered about Nigerians is the enthusiasm with which we celebrate impunity. The news about the stone-throwing mob who almost denied Charly Boy his right to life among other rights is a concrete evidence of this fact.
Frankly speaking, this calls for serious concern and neither the indifference of some people nor the ignorant views of others is good enough for our Country. Amidst the various comments and articles that trailed the ugly incident, the opinion of Fola Ojo in his write-up titled, “The day Charly Boy almost died for Nigeria” caught my attention.
It is quite impressive that Fola Ojo was not only factual but was also objective in his view which was published in The PUNCH Newspaper on the 18th day of August 2017. He wrote:
“It was three weeks ago that I stumbled, for the first time, on the picture of this half-stripped man on a media platform. The name did not ring a bell. But in the last few days, the social media have been flooded with his exploits. He was born and christened Charles Chukwuemeka Oputa, but in Nigeria, they call him Charly Boy.He is not a boy by any stretch; he is a 66-year-old man. Charly Boy is a musician, entertainer, and a Nigerian who is probably trying to do right for Nigeria through his many expressions. I like Nigerians who get involved in discussing government and how to make things right. For if we don’t, wicked men will have freer reigns in the polity much more than they do now.
A few days ago, Charly Boy went to the popular Wuse Market in Abuja allegedly to mobilise the traders to protest the absence of Muhammadu Buhari from his seat as Nigeria’s President. Buhari has been in London for over 101 days recuperating from an unannounced illness. Like many Nigerians, Charly Boy feels the President is taking too long returning. Alongside his #ResumeorResign movement, he stormed the market. But when a few people who obviously did not agree with him on politics and sundry social issues sighted him, hell was let loose. By the whiskers, he escaped death. But he has promised to take his picketing soon to Buhari’s apartment in London if the President neither returns to Nigeria nor resigns from his post in a timely fashion as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Good luck to Charly Boy!
Every Nigerian has the right to protest any government if they feel or sense some ills in the system. If Nigeria is truly a democracy, freedom of expression must be seen to be inherent in citizens’ fundamental human rights. This writer stood with Candidate Buhari in the presidential election of 2015. I still have some sympathy for him and his agenda till today. Until I have a reason to pivot, I stand strong. But I am not a fanatic of any man. My love is first for Nigeria. If we choose to protest what does not work in a system, it doesn’t mean we hate the leader; and it doesn’t mean we don’t want him to succeed. This is a thinking process that many Nigerians don’t get. In Nigeria, you are not permitted to disagree with a man you support even when he is flat wrong on some issues. When you highlight where he’s gone rogue, you are perceived an enemy. But in your heart of heart, you are a true friend. I don’t know the political inclination of Charly Boy, but it doesn’t really matter. His right to voice a dissent on any issue affecting his country is inalienable.
one rogue, you are perceived an enemy. But in your heart of heart, you are a true friend. I don’t know the political inclination of Charly Boy, but it doesn’t really matter. His right to voice a dissent on any issue affecting his country is inalienable.
It’s an easy call for those who did not vote or struggle to get Buhari elected to ask him to step aside. It’s far easier for his haters to wish him dead and gone. But for those who believe in Mr. President up till now, it may be a tough road to travel. What Charly Boy was requesting in his protest is also being discussed in hushed tones even among those who are strict adherents of the ruling APC.There are murmurings among men in secret places; and these are folks who sincerely love the President. They think he should step aside if he is too frail to lead. And some of them believe that because of his integrity, and for the sake of Nigeria, he may do just that after this current trip to London if the strength to rule has waned. That, in my opinion, may be a long shot. And for very many reasons too.
Readers, allow me to scribble this on record to Charly Boy; and other Charly Boys out there. If you came to the US in the heart of winter, you better get your winter garments handy and ready. If you don’t, you may die of hypothermia. How you conduct business in a specific terrain is determined by the ruggedness and character of that terrain. The Nigerian political terrain is treacherous. Illiteracy is high and ignorance is sky higher. Human lives don’t mean much to many. And for countless hoodlums bred through the misrule of politicians and men in government over many decades, human lives cost only N1000 or less. You must deal with issues of politics with caution. Wisdom is a defence.
Wuse market where Charly Boy was protesting Buhari is a territory full of men and women who naturally hate the likes of Charlie Boy. It is a spot where Northern politician celebrities are held in high esteem and adored as gods. You can call it a public place; and you are not wrong. But I call it a privately public hotbed of fanaticism and die-hardness. And Charly Boy took the bashing of Buhari to that spot? Well, he has denied protesting Buhari at the market. Some of my friends think there would have been reprisals in other parts of the country if he had been killed in the melee. I agree. But the reprisals would have probably lasted a few hours. Men and women, most of them unemployed and hungry will be killed, an investigation will be launched into the whys and hows, Charly Boy would have made it half-way to heaven or hell; and the story will end there forever!
People have burning urges to protest many things in Nigeria. But they hold back and get opprobrious only in hushed tones. With a handout of N1000, kings have been killed in Nigeria. With N500, queens have been buried alive. What happened to men senselessly killed in times past? They died and were buried; some of them unceremoniously. And their living loved-ones shouldered the pain. What happened to a whole Attorney-General of the country; Bola Ige after he was killed in 2001? What happened to Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, the man who won the 1993 Presidential election? What happened to Ken Saro-Wiwa, a decent man fighting for the freedom of his people? They were all slaughtered by bandits and brutes. And their killers, except for Saro-Wiwa, remain nameless and faceless till today. If Charly Boy has decided to die for Nigeria, that is his calling. After his death, a big monument and statute will be built for him in Imo State and probably in Lagos. And later, when a Pharaoh who knows not Joseph shows up, the statutes and monuments will be pulled down. If God has wired you a martyr scheduled to die for Nigeria that may not be ready to lift a finger for its citizens; please, don’t hold back. Die as soon as you have the opportunity. As for me and my house, we are more useful rebuilding Nigeria alive than dead in the hands of demons strolling around as humans. By the way, this counsel is for men; not boys.”
Points to Note:
1. Every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, except in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria.
2. Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly, no person shall be subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment.
3. Every person is entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such liberty except in accordance with a procedure permitted by law such as in execution of the sentence or order of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty.
4. In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.
5. No person shall be held to be guilty of a criminal offence on account of any act or omission that did not, at the time it took place, constitute such an offence.
6. Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.
7. Also, every person shall be entitled to own, establish and operate any medium for the dissemination of information, ideas and opinions.
8. Every person has a right to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interest.
9. Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part the country, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry or exit from the country.
10. In essence, every person has a right to organize and participate in a peaceful protest for the protection of his interest.
History has it that on the 21st May 2003, the All Nigeria Peoples’ Party had requested the Inspector-General of Police to issue police permits to its members to hold unity rallies throughout the country to protest the rigging of the 2003 elections.
The request was refused by the police chief without any reason. The ANPP decided to hold the rallies.
The first rally which held in Kano on the 22nd of September 2003 which was attended by General Muhammadu Buhari and other leaders of the ANPP was violently disrupted by the police on the ground that the organizers had not obtained a police permit.
The ANPP and 10 other opposition political parties briefed and instructed Femi Falana & Co to challenge the constitutional validity of police permit for rallies in Nigeria.
In the suit filed at the Federal High Court, it was contended that provisions of the Public Order Act requiring permit for rallies were in conflict with the fundamental right of Nigerians to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.
In defending the action the police counsel maintained that the rally was stopped because it was not authorized by the Inspector-General of Police.
According to the learned trial judge said “I am therefore persuaded by the argument of Mr. Falana that by the combined effect of sections 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution as well as Article 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the right to assemble freely cannot be violated without violating the fundamental right to peaceful assembly and association. I also agree with Mr. Falana that violation can only be done by the procedure permitted by law, under section 45 of the Constitution, in which case there must be a state of emergency properly declared before these rights can be violated.”
In conclusion, Charly Boy and his fellow peaceful protesters have a right to protest the President’s continued stay in London because the alibi they’ve gotten as governance wasn’t in their interest. More so, they were speaking the mind of million of Nigerian. As a matter of fact, if President Muhammadu Buhari could enforce his right to protest in 2003, why should organizers and participants of peaceful protests be mobbed? Why should the law enforcement agents and other relevant authorities ignore such acts of jungle justice which amounts to share impunity and injustice? Remember, injustice to one is injustice to all!
Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/02/the-legal-right-of-nigerians-to-protest-against-government/
Joseph Jagunmolu Ogunmodede is a budding lawyer and the Founder of THE LEGAL DIARY.
He was born in Ogun State, Nigeria, and holds a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) Degree from the prestigious University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State where he was awarded a First Class (Honours). He is currently a Bar Aspirant at the Nigerian Law School (Lagos Campus).