Former Senator from Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Shehu Sani has condemned the members of the House of Representatives for proposing a bill to imprison people who they call ‘unlawful’ protesters.
The ex-Senator described it as a “tyrannical bill trying to suppress the fundamental rights of the people who organise themselves and protest against injustice and oppression.”
Speaking with SaharaReporters on Wednesday about the bill which had been approved for a second reading on Tuesday as sponsored by Emeka Chinedu Martins, the former Senator expressed disappointment with the move by the federal lawmakers.
He described the proposed bill as unacceptable.
The bill is titled: ‘An Act To Amend The Criminal Code ACT, CAP 38, Laws Of The Federation Of Nigeria, 2004 To Further Preserve The Sanctity Of Human Life And Property, And To Provide Specifically For Mob Action, Prescribe Punishment And Other Matters.’
The provisions of the proposed Act, are as follows: (1) The provisions of the Criminal Code Act, (in this Bill referred to as the “Principal Act”) is amended as set out in this Bill (2) Substitute for section 69 of the Principal Act, a new section 69″.
The federal lawmakers of the Green Chamber in the definition of the bill said: “Definitions: Unlawful assembly, Riot, Mob action (a) When three or more persons, with intent to carry out some common purpose, assemble in such a manner or, being assembled, conduct themselves in such a manner as to cause persons in the neighbourhood to fear on reasonable grounds that the persons so assembled will tumultuously disturb the peace, or will by such assembly needlessly and without any reasonable occasion provoke other persons tumultuously to disturb the peace, they are an unlawful assembly.
“It is immaterial that the original assembling was lawful if, being assembled; they conduct themselves with a common purpose in such a manner as aforesaid.”
Reacting, Sani said it was another step to register tyranny against people while adding that members of the Lower Chamber are enjoying democracy got on a platter of many protests against the military dictatorship.
“Well, that bill is nothing but a step towards institutionalising tyranny and oppression in Nigeria. It is condemnable and unacceptable that an institution of democracy like the House of Reps will craft a tyrannical bill that is trying to suppress the fundamental rights of the people who want to organise themselves and protest against injustice and oppression.
“It is disappointing that democratically-elected Representatives of the people are using the democratic platform as an institution to build an edifice of oppression.
“They need to understand that it is the culture and practice of protest that freed Nigerian from the military dictatorship that made it possible for democracy to thrive in this country and also for them to enjoy it as representatives of the people,” Sani said.
He, therefore, urged Nigerians to publicly participate in discussions and also protest against the bill, adding that he would join in the protest.
“So, as far as I’m concerned, I’m highly disappointed with the behaviour of the House of Reps.
“The people should oppose this. First of all, the citizens should fully participate in the public hearing. And there should be a national protest against that bill, in which I’m fully prepared to participate,” the former Senator added.