Fresh Insight received with utter disappointment the arrest and belated claims by the Kwara State Command of the Nigeria Police Force that some of the protesting Sunset SUBEB teachers were arrested for ‘inciting disturbance and violation of COVID-19 safety protocols’.
While the first accusation (public disturbance) is a usual language synonymous with government in their desperate attempt at robing protesters in criminal garments to justify clandestine ‘shut them up’ tactics, the latter (violation of COVID-19 protocols) is nothing but laughable. It only points to the fact that the suppressive tendencies in successive governments of Kwara States still persists and has refused to go even with the revolutionary Otoge struggle of 2019 that reshaped Kwara and Kwarans.
Deputy Governor, Kayode Alabi at an official function recently.
For the first accusation against the peaceful protesters, who were seen been harassed in viral video footage. We hold that the Right to peaceful assembly by every persons is guaranteed under the Nigerian Constitution (as amended), provided it is not counteractive to public safety, orderliness, morality or public health, or to protect the rights or freedoms of others.
Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, Sen. Ibrahim Yahyah Oloriegbe and others at the empowerment organised recently in Ilorin, in clear contravention of Covid 19 protocols.
Assuming (without conceding) that the protesters violated COVID-19 regulations as made by the Federal and Kwara State government, it is worrisome that the Police is only waking up to the realization that COVID-19 safety protocols is being flouted in Kwara State during the peaceful protest of the disengaged teachers. Perhaps, COVID-19 regulations lacks the blind nature of law and recognizes certain individuals, who to the Police, are sacred cows.
Since the latest COVID-19 guidelines issued by the Kwara State government, the Governor and other high ranking citizens of Kwara state have been seen at various social functions, serially flouting the Covid 19 protocols. Worthy of note in this regard is the viral video of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq mingling amidst large crowd at Oke-iyapo and Isanlu-Isin on the 26th of December, 2020.
Gov. Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq at Oke-Ipo in clear contravention of Covid 19 protocols and restrictions
Several of the Governor’s aide and political associates, including the Deputy Governor who once contracted COVID-19, have also been found wanting in recent times, as they brazenly defile COVID-19 safety protocols. They organized political rallies at different local government in flagrant disobedience of COVID-19 regulations. Rather than arrest them like the Sunset teachers, they were provided protection at those ‘illegal’ gatherings’ by the Police.
We therefore conclude, that the arrest of the peaceful protesters is nothing but brazen violation of human rights, under the guise of enforcing COVID-19 regulations, in as much as other members of the society, especially allies of the government who flouted COVID-19 safety protocols are left unarrested by the Police. It amounts to selective judgment.
Mayhaps, we also need to remind the State police command that not only did the government blocked the ever busy Ahmadu Bello way from all angles for hours during the rescheduled APC Stakeholders meeting which held recently at Banquet Hall, which is an infringement on the fundamental human rights of the road users, but violated for partisan reasons and definitely not for public good.
Only the immediate arrest and treatment in same manner of all coordinators of the political rallies, organizers of social functions and verifiable attendees between December 24th and now. Else, all the arrested sunset be released with immediate effect, unconditionally, if the the Police must be seen as working to protect the interest of all, regardless of class or creed.