- Category: Occupy Nigeria Protest
- Published on Tuesday, 17 January 2012 11:41
- Written by Admin
- Hits: 753
Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola yesterday urged President Goodluck Jonathan to withdraw the troops deployed in Lagos.
He described the presence of soldiers on the streets of Lagos as uncalled for, adding that the right of Lagosians to protest against any government policy should be guaranteed. But the governor noted that such rights go with some duties on the part of the citizenry.
According to him, the protesters have been peaceful.
Fashola, in a state broadcast, said: “I, therefore, urge the reconsideration of the decision to deploy soldiers and implore the President and Commander-in-Chief to direct their withdrawal from our streets.”
The governor said the right of free speech and protest is not absolute, adding that they impose the duty not to break the law, breach the peace, endanger human life or destroy property whether public or private.
“They also impose the duty to respect the rights of others not to support our protest and indeed to support what we oppose. At the end of the day, it is a contest of ideas in which the most persuasive will get the endorsement of the majority of the people we serve,” Fashola said, adding:
“I am convinced that our democracy is mature enough to accommodate this. We must do our best to ensure that it does.”
He affirmed his respect for members of the nation’s military because of what he called their contract with the citizenry to willingly lay down their lives whenever it becomes necessary to do so, and wondered why such a security apparatus should be used to stop the people from expressing their grievances against government policies.
“It is not disputable that the citizens who have gathered in several parts of Lagos, like Falomo, Ikorodu and Ojota, to mention but a few have largely conducted themselves peacefully, singing and dancing while they expressed their displeasure at the way we have taken decisions that affect them.
“That in my view should not to offend those of us in government. The majority of these people who represent diverse interests have not broken any law. If they have, it is my opinion that in a constitutional democracy, it is the police that have the responsibility for restoring law and order if civil protests threaten the breach of the peace.
“This is not justification for sending out soldiers to a gathering of unarmed citizens. Every one of us, or at least majority of us who hold public offices, danced and sang before these same people when we were seeking their votes. Why should we feel irritated when they sing and dance in protest against what we have done?” Fashola said.
He said the issue at stake was not a matter for the military, noting that the sooner the President had a rethink and rescinds this decision, the better and stronger our democracy will be.
Fashola remarked that he was convinced that the country’s democracy is mature enough to accommodate robust engagement between the leaders and the governed. He urged the Presidency to respect the rights of others.
“If anything, this is a most welcome transformation of our democracy in the sense that it provokes a discussion of economic policies and this inevitably may result in political debate,” Fashola said.
Additional information from 'The Nation'