By Cecilia Ijuo
The Senate on Wednesday condemned the use of force by the Police in dispersing protesters campaigning against the medical vacation of President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on Tuesday.
In a statement by the Chairman, Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Sen. Aliyu Abdullahi, the Senate stated that though it did not support the protest, it would not support violation of fundamental rights of Nigerians.
A group, “OurMuMuDonDo”, led by Mr Charles Oputa, popularly known as Charly Boy, on Monday began an indefinite sit-out at the Unity Fountain, Abuja, demanding Buhari’s resumption of work or resignation.
But, on Tuesday, the police forcefully dispersed them after using water and teargas on them, which led to a “fainting feat’’ on Oputa.
“While we are opposed to the subject of the protest, the Senate acknowledges that the protesters have the constitutional right to gather and express their views in a manner that will not breach public peace and order.
”Since the ‘Our-Mumu-Don-Do’ protesters did not conduct themselves in such a manner as to disturb public peace, it is not right for the Police to brutalize them as they reportedly did yesterday.
“The police should review their rules of engagement and ensure that they are in line with that of modern democratic societies.
”The rights of the people should not be violated by the police employed to protect these rights.
”Where the Police suspect that hoodlums are trying to hijack a protest, it is their duty to apprehend the hoodlums and those who break the law rather than generalise and thus brutalize innocent protesters.
“We, however, urge the organisers of the protest to join other Nigerians in praying for the safe return of President Buhari.
”They should note that any mortal can find himself in the situation where one needs medical attention and more time to fully recuperate.
”More so, in the present case, the president complied with the provisions of the Constitution and all organs of government are not impaired nor hindered by his medical vacation,” it stated.