HURIWA knocks Reps over bill to criminalise protests, seeks travel ban against Gbajabiamila
Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA), on Monday, carpeted the House of Representatives for passing for second reading, a bill seeking to criminalise protests in Nigeria and jail each protester for five years.
HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the bill is unconstitutional, illegal, and dictatorial and called for lovers of democracy to actively resist it.
The group also asked the international community like the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union to slam travel ban on the Speaker of the House of Representatives and his co-travellers pushing for the bill to become a law.
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“The bill which was sponsored by a member of the House, Emeka Chinedu Martins (PDP-Imo), seeks to amend the Criminal Code Act, Cap 38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punish individuals who participate in unlawful assembly.
“This controversial bill is unconstitutional, illegal, and dictatorial. We condemn it in all its entirety and call on all lovers of democracy both within and outside of Nigeria to actively resist it.
“Protests are internationally legal actions to press home civil demands and this right should not be taken away by any draconian government through legislative radicality.
“Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states that every person shall be entitled to freedom of assembly as a political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of their mutual interests.
“The right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association is protected by article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The freedom of peaceful assembly is a fundamental human right articulated in Article 21 of the United Nations (UN) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which has been ratified by 173 countries. Also, Article 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights legalise protests as an integral part of democracy.
“We call on the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union and other international bodies and entities to resist the suppressors and oppressors of Nigeria’s burgeoning democracy by imposing travel ban on the Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and the sponsor of the satanic and draconian bill, Emeka Martins.
“This bill must be thrashed in the dustbin of history immediately, ” HURIWA’s Onwubiko said.