The Nigerian Bar Association Benin Branch is taken aback and condemns unequivocally and in strong terms the unwarranted and unjustifiable attack on peaceful protesters led by Dr. Osagie Obayuwana by members of the Public Works Volunteers (PUWOV) in Benin City, Edo State on Monday 31st May, 2021.

We find the assault and vandalisation of the properties of the peaceful protesters most reprehensible and extremely distasteful. We call on the State Government to fish out the perpetrators of this ungodly act for proper discipline and sanction. The right to gather and protest peacefully is an inalienable right of every citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as guaranteed and protected under sections 38, 39, 40 and 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended). Citizens have a right to voice out their displeasures, disappointments and frustrations. The Court of Appeal upheld the right to protest in the case of IGP V. ANPP (2008) 12 WRN 65 stating that “certainly in a democracy, it is the right of citizens to conduct peaceful processions, rallies or demonstrations without seeking and obtaining permission from anybody. It is a right guaranteed by the 1999 constitution and any law that attempts to curtail such right is null and void and of no effect.” The right to protest is also protected in International Law.

We were therefore surprised to learn of the attempt by certain officials of PUWOV to curtail the rights of citizens to protest the wanton insecurity in Nigeria. What is even more condemnable is the attack on the person of Dr. Osagie Obayuwana who is a distinguished legal practitioner, foremost human rights activist, a former Attorney General of Edo State and a member of the Benin Bar. Perhaps it is appropriate to go down memory lane and state that the democracy which we enjoy today is a result of the efforts of persons like Dr. Obayuwana who took on the Abacha junta in the quest to ensure that the rights of Nigerians are protected and was incarcerated by the Abacha led junta because of his unerring stance in the face of intimidation. It is a testament to Dr. Obayuwana’s steadfastness that over 20 years after, he is still at the forefront of the civil society movement.

As a noble Association, we find the brazen attack on the protesters led by Dr. Osagie Obayuwana, a former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Edo State to be the height of lawlessness and we demand that an apology be sent to the protesters and the erring PUWOV officials who led the assault and disruption be brought to book.

Pius I. Oiwoh Esq.


O.A. Lawani Esq.


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