Delegate Name: Nathan Parish
The right to peaceful assembly and protest is upheld to an extent in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Article 11 of the 1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, states that, “every individual shall have the right to assemble freely with others. The exercise of this right shall be subject only to necessary restrictions provided for by law, in particular those enacted in the interest of national security, the safety, health, ethics and rights and freedoms of others.” Nigeria is a party to this article but has not allowed the right of petition to the Court by individuals and non-governmental organizations. It is Nigeria’s goal to support the right to peacefully protest, as long as the safety of national security and citizens are not threatened.
Sadly, there have been multiple deaths during protests throughout Nigeria’s history. Recently, at least 11 protesters died after curfew on October 20, 2021 at a tollgate in Lekki. A representative of the Nigerian Army, Brig. Gen. A.I. Taiwo, stated that the troops at the tollgate “strictly followed” the correct rules of engagement for national security. For example, they used nonviolent tactics, such as firing blank rounds. While some people call this unfortunate incident a “massacre,” Nigeria’s Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed, ensures that “the only massacre recorded was in the social media.” Another protest in 2014, which focused on requesting government action to save over 200 schoolgirls who were kidnapped by the Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram, in April, is a more accurate example of most protests in Nigeria. This peaceful protest was allowed to occur without police interference, and their message was heard, since the simple, and vital, rules regarding protesting were followed. The Nigerian government has rescued many of the girls, and apologized for a slow response. Government officials stated that the military was overstretched and they were worried that a failed rescue attempt could endanger the girls’ lives. It is Nigeria’s government’s goal to maintain Nigerian citizens rights to peacefully protest and voice their opinions, as long as it doesn’t endanger the lives of others or national security.
Allowing peaceful protests requires a strong communication between the government and citizens. If citizens understand and follow the necessary limits regarding protesting, which prevents rioting, anarchy, and bloodshed, then the Nigerian government can allow and support peaceful protests. It is also important for the government to respond to the opinions voiced during protests. In certain cases, aid from developed countries may be necessary for supporting protesters’ wishes, such as rescuing the kidnapped schoolgirls in 2014. Nigeria will support resolutions that allow peaceful protests, only if certain rules regarding public safety and national security are engaged.