NLC Protest: Opportunity for Police, SSS to Earn Public Trust

Security operatives in Nigeria have another opportunity to earn public trust as labour union members gear up for a two-day nationwide protest against the rising cost of living in the country.

Development Diaries reports that while the State Security Service (SSS) had initially urged the organised labour to shelve its planned strike, the presidency reiterated its warning to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) not to embark on the demonstration.

The NLC plans to stage protests on 27 and 28 February in response to the sharp increase in the cost of goods and services brought on, among other things, by the removal of the fuel subsidy and the free collapse of the naira.

Peaceful assembly is a fundamental human right enshrined in the Nigerian constitution and various international human rights instruments.

This right is essential for a functioning democracy and is crucial for holding the government accountable; therefore, the government suppressing labour unions’ right to protest would violate this right.

Also, Nigerians cannot be barred from voicing their complaints against the unprecedentedly high cost of living, following the country’s increased suffering, the rising inflation rate, and the increasing poverty.

It is important to understand the source of the citizens’ present rage. Without proper and well-thought-out corrective measures and corresponding sacrifices from government officials, the people should not be expected to keep making sacrifices.

In light of these realities, what we expect the security agencies to do is provide security for the protesters, if indeed there are confirmed reports of a planned hijacking of the protests.

The government must understand that these protests are not against the state but a way for citizens to have their voices heard.

Instead of trying so hard to stop the protests and, in the process, raising the suspicions of the populace and widening the trust gap, the government and security operatives should ensure adequate protection for protesters.

Their attempt to stop protests only sends a clear message that the government is not interested in addressing the concerns of its people but rather in maintaining its grip on power or is more concerned with protecting its interests.

Such actions breed resentment and fuel a sense of alienation and mistrust towards those in authority; hence, the security agencies should not miss a vital opportunity to earn public trust.

Development Diaries urges the SSS and the police to provide adequate protection for protesters in line with section 83(4) of the Police Establishment Act, which empowers the Minister of Justice to provide security cover for protesters.

We also call on citizens to be peaceful and law-abiding while exercising their legitimate right to press home their demands.


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