3rd January, 2012
RELEASE DETAINED ANTI-SUBSIDY PROTESTERS
Men of the Nigerian Police brutally engaged activists protesting against the removal of oil subsidy yesterday in Abuja and Kano. Several activists were detained while some of the protesters sustained injuries in the stampede as a result of teargas fired at them by the police. In Kano, a journalist with the Daily Trust was arrested along with protesters.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is deeply disturbed by the high-handedness of Nigeria's security agents. This brutal handling depicts the Nigerian police as badly trained, inefficient and anti-people. Our police force has failed to learn from the civilized approach of their peers in Western countries. It is on record that Occupy Wall Street protesters were tolerated for weeks before the United States' police moved in to dismantle their camps. The fact that the Nigerian Police resorted to the use of force on anti-fuel subsidy protesters exposes them as intolerant, infantile and trigger-happy.
The arrest of the Daily Trust journalist is an affront on the ethics of the police calling. It is laughable that our policemen cannot separate the wheat from the chaff, the plaintiff from the accused and the witness from the suspect. The average Nigerian is constrained to interpret this as further proof of the insecurity in the country and the absence of the true mechanisms of democracy. This assault on protesters who were merely appending their signatures to a protest register opened at the venue confirms the suspicion that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is jittery.
MURIC asserts that the protests against the removal of fuel subsidy are justifiable as long as government has no mandate of the people to do what it has done. The debate over the issue has just begun. It is also a betrayal of trust because it was never mentioned during President Jonathan's campaign. To that extent subsidy is a fraud. Nigerians did not vote for fuel subsidy. It is therefore immoral, unjustifiable and provocative. By removing fuel subsidy at a time when government has not implemented minimum wage, Jonathan has stabbed the Nigerian people in the back.
We therefore express our full support for the current protests as long as they are peaceful. However, we urge the organizers to bear in mind the safety of the general public. Protests must be arranged in such a manner that leaves no room for hijacking by riff-raffs who are most likely to turn violent thereby visiting hardship on innocent citizens.
We charge the police to be civil in their handling of the situation. The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantees freedom of association and freedom of expression. MURIC will work in tandem with the rest of the Nigerian civil society to ensure that exuberant security agents who violate Allah-given and fundamental rights of protesters will be made to account for their actions.
We warn the Federal Government to take soldiers off the streets during anti-subsidy protests. Democracies must steer off Gestapo-style tactics. Soldiers have no business in non-violent protests.
Finally, MURIC demands the immediate and unconditional release of all detained protesters including Dino Melaye and the Daily Trust journalist.
Is-haq Akintola (Ph.D),
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC),
Yahoo Group: groups.yahoo.com/group/muslimrights
Be just Justice is the soul of peace
No one can deny one and have the other
Neither can violence or naked force bring lasting peace