Nigerian Students Warn Security Agencies Against Suppressing Protests.
In response to a recent statement from Nigeria’s Department of State Services (DSS) regarding potential violent protests over socio-economic challenges, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has issued a stern warning to security agencies, particularly the DSS, against clamping down on Nigerians, especially students, who exercise their right to protest against bad governance in the country.
DSS’s Warning and NANS’ Reaction
The DSS had released a statement, communicated by its Public Relations Officer, Peter Afunanya, expressing concerns about plans for violent protests orchestrated by certain politicians, ethnic-based associations, youths, and disgruntled groups. In response, NANS criticized the DSS, characterizing it as a propaganda tool of the government for its tendency to raise alarm and interfere in matters unrelated to its primary responsibilities.
NANS emphasized that peaceful assembly and protest are constitutionally protected rights in Nigeria, as provided in Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended). The student body stressed that such protests against government actions and misgovernance should not be misconstrued as acts of violence.
The Right to Peaceful Protest
NANS called upon students and Nigerians in general to participate actively in protests demanding a reversal of arbitrary increases in school fees. The organization highlighted its dissatisfaction with the current state of Nigerian society.
The statement from NANS affirmed, “Students, and, indeed, the Nigerian people must be free at all times to protest whatever they might tag as misgovernance of the affairs of the country.”
Concerns About DSS’s Actions
NANS expressed concern over what it perceives as the DSS’s deviation from its core duties and responsibilities, becoming a propaganda arm of the government. The student body criticized the DSS for raising false alarms and involving itself in matters outside its professional purview.
NANS underscored its dissatisfaction with the management of tertiary institutions, particularly the arbitrary fee increments. It cited the University of Lagos as an example, where an agreement on fee structures had not been honored. In response, NANS announced plans for a protest at the University of Lagos on September 6th, with the intention to continue until the management reverses the fee hike.
Call to Action
NANS encouraged students to participate actively in the protest and emphasized that a permit from the police is not required for peaceful demonstrations, asserting that such requirements are a misunderstanding of Nigerian law.
The statement concluded with a rallying cry, “Students are therefore enjoined to come out en masse and join in the protest for the immediate reversal of fees at the University of Lagos. Aluta Continua!!!”