A lawyer and human rights activist, Tope Temokun has advocated that people should be allowed to enjoy the freedom that true democracy represents.
According to him, Nigerians have the right to assemble and protest on Saturday, June 12.
The activist disclosed this in an open letter to the Inspector General of Police regarding the planned Jide 12 protests.
He explained that June 12 will not be for in-house assessment or hall symposia, noting that in all the civilised parts of the world, public rallies and nonviolent protests are part and parcel of democracy.
He said, “This June 12, this day that has now been officially given recognition as the National Democracy Day, will not be for in-house assessment or hall symposia. It is a day when the people should be allowed the freedom that true democracy represents, the freedom to speak out and the freedom to assemble.
“In all the civilised parts of the world, public rallies and nonviolent protests are part and parcel of democracy. While the governments at various levels should be free to have their own programmes like gathering of people together in halls for talk-show or symposia, to discuss issues that relate to the memorials of June 12 and that regrettable annulment, the issues bedevilling the people today have crystallised beyond talk-show and symposia or the reverberation of the memories of how the winner of June 12 election was denied the presidency.”
He stressed that people are still hungry.
“The issues today are more monstrous and more daring than ever. The issue of kidnappings and killings across townships and villages of the country, which we now euphemistically call banditry instead of using appropriate words like bloodbath and bloodshed across the nation and general insecurity in the country which does not even spare our soldiers and our police officers and other law enforcement agents, are issues that call for national mourning and walk to freedom by way of marching on the streets of the country to call for an end to these killings, insecurity and fears and deaths in the land.
“People are still hungry, no doubt. But while there is life, there is hope. But when life is not guaranteed again with these killings, these kidnappings, this banditry, both in the north and now in the south, the assurance of life is now very low for everyone.
“It is against this background that it is of utmost necessity to allow the people to express themselves, to chose how they want to observe their “democracy” day.
“If the government can choose how to celebrate democracy day, the ara ilu (civil populace) too must be allowed the freedom to choose how to celebrate theirs and that is the only thing that can be democratic.
“If the people choose to be in streets peacefully to protest against the killings in the land, kidnappings, among other challenges of bad governance in the land, the only role the police would play as citizens in uniform is to be with the people, to march side by side the people, to ensure the there is no derailment to objectives of this justiable national outcry.”
Tope urged the police and all the security outfits in Nigeria who might be sent out on June 12 to maintain orderliness.
“I therefore urge the police and all the security outfits in Nigeria who might be sent out tomorrow to maintain orderliness to stop and desist from the barbaric and unpatriotic acts of pulling the trigger on fellow citizens during peaceful protests.
“The only complementary role you have as suffering but silent fellow citizens in uniform is to protect the protesters in the course of exercising their civic duties and ensure they remain non-violent and safe.
“We have had enough killings in this country and now is not the time to aggravate this situation of national anger by meeting peaceful protesters with combat and batons.
“We are all fighting for a better Nigeria together, where the citizens, the civilians, the police, the army and all others, will have a safer country and live a safer and more secured life,” he added.