Legal luminary and founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD) Aare Afe Babalola, SAN on Friday declared that Nigerian youths protesting against police brutality have inalienable right to do so under the Nigerian constitution, advising the Federal Government not to take the nationwide protest with levity, but to constructively engage the youths with a view to finding a permanent solution to the problems they are fighting against.
The senior lawyer advised President Muhammadu Buhari to caution the Inspector General of Police, Muhammaed Adamu against using high-handed tactics with the protesting youths, adding that doing this could lead to a mass revolution that could get out of hand.
Babalola gave the charge on Friday at ABUAD farm while addressing farmers across 16 local government areas of the state at a session in commemoration of the World Food Day.
He reasoned that the agitation of the youths is beyond the cruelty and brutality of the defunct SARS, but against ‘insurmountable problems’ of poverty, unemployment, corruption, systemic and leadership failure.
Babalola said the future looks bleaks if the hydra- headed problems afflicting the country are not addressed, adding Nigerians are struggling with poverty in its naked form.
He condemned the series of attacks on the aggrieved protesters, describing the actions as illegal and unconstitutional.
The legal icon cautioned police operatives against harassing any protesters but provide adequate security for them to press home their demands.
He noted youths have the inalienable and fundamental right to protest against agencies of the Federal Government that have derailed from carrying out its constitutional mandate.
“It’s sad that our police authorities could stoop so low to have attacked Nigerians protesting against brutality, extortion and harassment by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
“Protest is a legitimate way of expressing opinions concerning government actions or inactions. The rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are guaranteed under the constitution as fundamental rights.
“So, it’s fundamental that people should have a right to protest. Our youths took to the streets protesting because there is something paining them.
“They are telling the people in power that there’s pain. The pain may be poverty, unemployment, corruption and what the police is doing. And so no sensible government will not react to it.
“It is expedient that the Government should negotiate immediately and meet their demands to avert revolution,” he said.