How Egbetokun Ensures Hitch-Free NLC Protests

By Adewole Kehinde

“The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart. The most powerful weapon you can have is an instrument of peace.Carlos Santana

I recall that in August 2023, when the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) embarked on a protest aimed at calling on the federal government to reverse all “anti-poor” and “insensitive” policies, IGP Kayode Egbetokun told the NLC that the force would not tolerate violent protests.

I also recall that in a statement issued by the force spokesperson, Muyiwa Adejobi, he quoted the IGP Egbetokun as having directed state commissioners of police to discuss with the leadership of organised labour “to foster understanding and reach common ground on the planned protests.”.

“The Nigeria Police Force reiterates its commitment to ensuring the safety and security of all citizens during the period of the planned protests, as all necessary measures to facilitate the peaceful conduct of these demonstrations have been implemented,” the statement reads.

“However, it is hereby reaffirmed that any attempt by miscreants to exploit the situation for violent purposes, viz., vandalism, gangsterism, and extortion, will be met with a firm, professional, and commensurately lawful approach.

“The police will not tolerate any act that threatens the peace and well-being of our country.

“In light of the potential challenges posed by the planned protests, the Nigeria Police Force is fully prepared to deploy all available resources to maintain law and order and to protect the lives and property of our citizens.

“The IGP therefore calls on all officers to be vigilant, professional, and uphold the highest standards of conduct during this period.

“The police boss urges all stakeholders, including the NLC, TUC, and other civil society groups, to embrace peaceful dialogue as the most effective means of resolving grievances, while also reemphasizing that the police is committed to ensuring a secure and conducive environment for open dialogue, constructive engagement, and mutual understanding for a seamless exercise of civil rights.”

At the end of the NLC protest, it became a hitch-free protest.

On February 27, 2024, NLC embarked on another protest, and I must commend the Nigeria Police under the leadership of Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kayode Egbetokun, who ensured another hitch-free protest across the country.

The police categorically promised to protect protestors’ constitutional rights and freedoms as the Nigeria Labour Congress and affiliated unions announced their preparations for nationwide demonstrations.

The police showed their dedication to maintaining peaceful protests, which are a fundamental component of democratic speech, by putting personnel on red alert around the country.

They demonstrated their commitment to maintaining peace and order while respecting the opinions of the public by taking proactive steps, such as coordinating with local authorities and issuing strong warnings against violence.

The police’s position is an excellent illustration of democratic policing, in which the preservation of citizens’ rights is given top priority. We should be grateful for their persistent dedication to protecting protestors’ safety and security, as well as their strong will to oppose any attempts to disturb the calm.

The police, led by IGP Egbetokun, have broken with tradition by disobeying court orders meant to put an end to protests. These directives go against the fundamental rights of citizens to peaceful assembly and democracy.

Egbetokun has exhibited democratic leadership by placing a high priority on ensuring the safety of nonviolent protests.

We should applaud the police for their admirable position in defending the rights of citizens to peaceful protest. Amid the chaos and noise, the police’s dedication to preserving democratic values stands out as a ray of hope. The police reiterate their commitment to upholding the fundamental principles of democracy and safeguarding human freedoms.

The police’s steadfast backing of nonviolent protests highlights their responsibility as defenders of the rule of law and as guarantors of justice. Nigerians must give the police their sincere gratitude for their unwavering dedication to justice, democracy, and the rights of all Nigerians.

For the first time, the story and pictures of the Lagos State Police Command supplying water and biscuits to protesters in Lagos State went viral.

I further discovered that many state commissioners of police demonstrated the commitment of law enforcement to protect the public interest and rule of law, thus advancing the cause of civil disobedience and responsible behaviour in their respective states.

IGP Kayode Egbetokun came up with the idea to make sure the protest, which is primarily being organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress, goes off without a hitch, and I will push other sister security agencies to adopt it.

 

Adewole Kehinde is the publisher of Swift Reporters and can be reached at 08166240846. E-mail: kennyadewole@gmail.com