The Nigerian Senate on Wednesday backed protests calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to resign from office after more than two months treating himself in the United Kingdom. Mr. Buhari left Nigeria on May 7 for treatment and has only been seen in two pictures.
His long absence led to street protests this week. Protesters asked him to resume or resign. Police brutalised the protesters, including a famous entertainer.
On Wednesday after videos of the crackdown surfaced on the Internet, the Nigerian Senate “condemned the action of the Nigeria Police in using force to disperse a group of protesters”. The senate and the executive had been at loggerheads for more than a year.
Although the Senate said it was opposed to the ‘subject of the protest’, it added that it was not against peaceful protests against the President.
Even more importantly, the open condemnation of the police in a statement is seen by many who have followed the lingering crisis between the executive and the legislature as an endorsement of the protests against President Buhari.
In a statement by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Dr. Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, the Senate stated that while it condemned the subject of the protest which is aimed at forcing President Buhari to either terminate his medical vacation or resign, the Upper Chamber of the Federal Legislature would not support any violation of the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.
“While we are opposed to the subject of the protest, the Senate acknowledges the fact that the protesters have the constitutional right to gather and express their views in a manner that will not breach public peace, order and tranquility. 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 the people 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 the protest, it is the duty of the Police to apprehend the hoodlums and those who break the law rather than generalise and thus brutalize innocent protesters.
“We however urge the organizers of the protest to join other Nigerians in praying for the safe return of President Buhari. They should note that any mortal being can find himself in the situation where one needs medical attention and more time to fully recuperate. More so, when 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,” Abdullahi stated.