Security

Nigerian police justify its use of force on protesters #June12thProtest

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The Nigerian police on Saturday justified its use of tear gas on protesters who took to the streets to mark Democracy Day by voicing their grievances against the government of the day.

According to police spokesman, Mr Frank Mba, the actions of officers were in line with international best practices of dispersing violent protests.

Mr Mba made the claim in an exclusive interview with Channels Television in Abuja. The police shot teargas at protesters in Lagos and Abuja.

Reporters who covered the protest in Abuja did not observe any sign of violence from the protesters before the police disrupted their parade.

According to Mr Mba, the use of teargas was an isolated case in Abuja where protesters turned violent.

“We had an isolated case in Abuja where some of the protesters became unruly and in line with international best practices, police fired teargas at them,” he said. “And that is an acceptable mode of engaging violent protesters anywhere in the world, whether it is in Abuja, Lagos, Paris, London, or New York or California. That is internationally accepted.

“We would have problems if we had fired live bullets at them, but when you fire teargas at protesters to disperse them, you are not in breach of any known code, either nationally or internationally.

“I also want to use this opportunity to state clearly that no citizen, either in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano or anywhere, is currently in detention as a result of this isolated incident.

“As long as protesters conduct themselves within the confines of the law; they do not constitute themselves into nuisance, they do not breach the rights of other citizens, they do not obstruct traffic, they do not compel other citizens to join their protests, the police will largely work with them.

“When you protest in contravention of these set of conditions I have given, clearly you are coming in direct conflict with the laws of the land, and the police will never stand by idly and watch you create problems for the entire polity.”

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