13th June, 2021
By Muhaimin Olowoporoku
Spokesman of the Nigerian Police, Frank Mba has justified the use of tear gas by officers on June 12 protesters in Lagos and Abuja.
The commissioner said that the actions of officers were in line with international best practices of dispersing violent protests.
He said this on Saturday while speaking in an interview with Channels Television in Abuja.
Police officers on Saturday fired tear gas in Lagos and Abuja while trying to disperse protesters.
An aide of the Lagos State governor, Anthony Adeyinka, said the action was to ward off hoodlums from hijacking the peaceful protest.
The spokesperson of FCT Police Command, Yusuf Mariam, however, said in a statement that officers fired tear gas to disperse protesters and foil attempts by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) members from inciting public disturbance.
Mba while speaking explained that there was an isolated case in Abuja where protesters turned violent and police officers had to fire tear gas at them.
“We had an isolated case in Abuja where some of the protesters became unruly and in line with international best practices, police fired teargas at them,” he said.
“That is an acceptable mode of engaging violent protesters anywhere in the world, whether it is in Abuja, Lagos, Paris, London, or New York or California. That is internationally accepted.
“We would have problems if we had fired live bullets at them, but when you fire teargas at protesters to disperse them, you are not in breach of any known code, either nationally or internationally.
No June 12 protester in detention
The police image maker during the interview also said that officers in Lagos, Abuja and any other part of the country did not detain any protester.
“I also want to use this opportunity to state clearly that no citizen, either in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano or anywhere, is currently in detention as a result of this isolated incident, he said.
“As long as protesters conduct themselves within the confines of the law; they do not constitute themselves into a nuisance, they do not breach the rights of other citizens, they do not obstruct traffic, they do not compel other citizens to join their protests, the police will largely work with them.
“When you protest in contravention of this set of conditions I have given, clearly you are coming in direct conflict with the laws of the land, and the police will never stand by idly and watch you create problems for the entire polity.”