The Trade Union Congress in Rivers State has declared the ban on protests by the State Police Commissioner, Mr. Mbu Joseph Mbu as illegal and unconstitutional.
According to the TUC state Chairman, Mr. Chika Onuegbu, the police had no power under the law to deny the people of the state their right to peaceful assembly and protest.
The state has recorded more than 10 politically-related protests since the crisis rocking the Rivers State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party began in April.
A High Court in Abuja had on April 15, 2013, ruled that the Mr. G.U. Ake-led executive of the state PDP be replaced by a new executive led by Mr. Felix Obuah.
But instead of putting an end to the crisis, the court judgment sparked a series of demonstrations, mostly at the Government House in Port Harcourt, as aggrieved members and supporters of the new party executive embarked on several protests.
The state police commissioner who was displeased with the development placed a ban on protests in the state and added that any group intending to go on a protest must get police clearance before doing so, and warned that protesters who flouted the directive would be arrested.
However, in a statement signed by its chairman, the TUC maintained that the right to peaceful assembly and protest was enshrined in the 1999 Constitution and Article 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.
“The Commissioner of Police, Rivers State and indeed the Nigeria Police Force have no right under the law to deny Rivers people their inalienable right to peaceful assembly and protest. This is a universal human right enshrined in Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,” Onuegbu said.
He added that the Court of Appeal had once ruled in a case between the Inspector General of Police and the All Nigeria Peoples Party that the requirement of police permission for holding rallies or processions in Nigeria was illegal and unconstitutional.