The Initiative for Rural Development, Information and Legal Advocacy (IRUDILA) also known as FOIA Counsel have approached the National Human Rights Commission, Abuja to lay a complaint against the Inspector General of Police and Edo State Government for violating the right of assembly and association of some group of persons in Edo State.
It will be recalled that the Inspector General of police cancelled the rally proposed to receive Pastor Ize Iyamu on 13th day of December 2019. On same date, the Edo State Government warned the general public against taking part in the scheduled rally. Part of the notice stated thus “The primary purpose of Government is the protection of life and property. Consequently, the government of Edo State has placed a total and complete ban on all political rallies, demonstrations and processions in any part of Edo state.
Similarly, the Commission’s attention was also drawn to the violent attack on members of Edo Civil Society Organizations (EDOCSO) during peaceful protest held on 9th day of November 2019 demanding non privatization of State Specialist Hospital. Officers of Edo State Government accosted and molested members and journalists covering the protest in the presence of police officer leading to loss of filming equipment, phones, money and wallets
Counsel to IRUDILA/FOI COUNSEL President Aigbokhan, Esq is asking the Commission to review the conduct of Edo State government and the police in Edo State as the right to association and assembly guaranteed under the Constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
According to him “we are very concern that the state government wants to revoke the certificate of occupancy of venue where rallies are held in the state and this is the height of dictatorship and a close up on civic space. More worrisome is the order of arrest of conveners of rallies. Today they are shutting down dissenting political voice, tomorrow it might be religious leaders and a day after it might be civil society actors. We must stand up to challenge this high handedness as same is not backed by any law. We are confident that the Commission will hear the application and grant pour reliefs which include appointing a Special Rapporteur on Assembly and Association for Edo State to give monthly report to the Commission with regard to the enjoyment of right to association and assembly in the state until the Respondents purges themselves of further violation particularly as the state warms up for a Guber poll”
Francis Onoiribholo is a correspondent with Daily Independent Newspaper