Thursday, 3 May 2012

Nigeria: Those Odious Protests


Protest for the right
In any thriving democracy, the right to assemble and the right to protest should be inalienable and protected by the constitution and the law.
However, there has been a rather worrisome development amongst Nigerians in the exercise of these rights that it is odious, repugnant, reprehensible and beneath contempt.
Some recent events do call for a discussion on why people gather to protest in support of manifestly corrupt, evil, deplorable, heinous and shameful situations or people.
As they gathered
Last year, within the clamour with regards to the nasty gang-rape of a lady at Abia State University, we had the governor, the university and even the police suggested no such criminal activity happened and to compound the matter, certain students and members of the public rallied in support of the government line that the report of the was to besmirch the good name of the state instigated by detractors.
In London, a few months ago when James Ibori the kleptomaniac ex-governor of Delta State entered a plea of guilty to charges of money laundering, people trooped out as supporters and well-wishers suggesting he had suffered an injustice despite the fact that their champion had conceded his guilt.
At his sentencing a few weeks ago, more even came out to support him, praise him and had the effrontery to ask the President to consider a total pardon for his crimes.
Protesting for the wrong
Just a few weeks ago, at the trial of a prominent traditional ruler for the rape of young lady, his counsel led the most egregious cross-examination that at best outraged public decency and in my view demanded serious censure when he asked the rape victim to expose in open court the bruising she might have suffered as a result of her alleged rape.
The trial was adjourned and on its assumption recently, some people came out to protest in support of the alleged rapist accusing the government of bias intimidation and thereby conflating the separation of powers that ensures the independence of the judiciary even if the prosecutor in the name of the people is in the pay of the state.
An angle worth exploring
The government of Osun State has decided to act to pursue and prosecute the protesters on the premise that they engaged children who were supposed to be in school into an enterprise that was a bad example in general and by conscripting them to carrying placards on a matter sub-judice, they had contemned the course of justice.
Obviously, everyone has a right to protest according to their consciences or in relation to how they have been persuaded either by sentiment or corrupt inducement, where they crossed the line was when they dragged minors into their cause – this might well be innocently or to make up the numbers – either way, the government can make a strong case from the angle of the Child Rights Act which they intend to invoke in pursuing the adults involved in the protest.
Walk, stand and sit right
However, we all know that the reason for this intended prosecution is to deal with the odium of protesting in support of wrongful causes that are not promotion of rights, truth, justice, fairness, good, humanity and honesty.
While it is a stretch, we need to begin to realise that there is consequence and retribution for what the Book of Psalms 1:1 says quite completely for walking in the counsel of the ungodly, standing in the path of the sinners or sitting in the seat of the scornful.
There is just cause and that cause must be seen to the end, our reaction to the celebration of the unseemly will determine where we have reached in progress and civility as a people.

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