RE: PDP Rep Member Present Bill Seeking To Jail Protesters.
The office of the member representing the good people of Ahiazu/Ezinihitte Mbaise Federal Constituency in the green Chamber of the national Assembly, Hon. Emeka Martins Chinedu, has been inundated with calls and messages over a misconception gone viral.
(1) The caption of the Bill that went viral was never the intent or opinion of the Ahiazu/Ezinihitte Mbaise Federal lawmaker; neither was it an embodiment of the Bill he sponsored that passed first reading on the floor of the National Assembly on Tuesday, July 6, 2021, hence, a clear case of misunderstanding, misconception and misrepresentation of facts.
(2) Hon. Emeka Chinedu as a representative of the people, whose Political idealogy is rooted in democratic tenets can never be a party to a system that seeks to stifle or cripple dissenting voices whose right to freedom of Assembly and protest is guaranteed by the combined effort of section 39 and 40 of 1999 Constitution as amended, as well as Article 11 of the African Charter on human and People’s Right to freely Assemble.
(3) While we urge Nigerians to imbibe the culture of reading beyond Newspaper caption in order to comprehend the body of a message, it is imperative to put the record straight, in order to douse tension and allay the concerns of our teeming adherents.
(4) The Criminal Code Amendment Bill, 2021, did not talk about criminalizing protest or Protesters in Nigeria, rather, it is a Bill that proactively seeks to preserve the sanctity of human life and property and provide specifically for mob action, known as “jungle justice” in our local parlance.
(5) In the lead debate that is coming up at the second reading, Hon. Emeka Chinedu’s argument is that ” now and then we hear and read in the News about mobs moving against people and properties”. And that “the word “,mob” connotes a disorderly People, intent on causing trouble or violence”.
(6) He is laying emphasis that: “Mob actions are usually trigged spontaneously by accusations of a bystander, then joined by another, till it turns to a crowed of vengeful carnage and destruction on its path”.
(7) And that[b] “the danger with mob actions is that participants typically believe they are punishing an accused for violation of the law, when in reality they are delving into jungle justice to the accused who may be totally innocent, and has not been given an opportunity to be fairly heard.” Consequently, He asserts that “they become accusers, judges and executors”. [/b]
(8) He also added that “most participants in Mob actions are usually not informed first-hand about the situation before joining the destructive crowed in blind rage to carry out their orgy of violence”, consequent upon which he cited the “Aluu Four” as “a notable example, wherein in 2012, four male students of the University of Port Harcourt who went on debt recovery, were set-up by the debtors, who accused them of theft, leading to their gruesome murder through mob action .”
(9) He further, cited “a case in 2016, where a man accused of homosexual in Ondo State was beaten to death”, while another “was lynched in Ebonyi State, over accusation of theft of Motorcycle”.
(10) One therefore, wonders what Criminal Code Cap 38 of the Federation of Nigerian that talks about Mob Action and Riot, and the combined Section 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, that talks about fundamental Human Rights to Protest, have in common.
(11) And also, what the Aluu four of Chuba in Rivers State, he empirically referenced got to do with Labour, Political or other lawful Protest as the case maybe.
(12) It is deserving to state unequivocally that in all these, the Legislative Tactician never prescribed a penalty for offenders since the penalties were already enshrined, rather, he gave Mob action the definition that was not clearly captured ab initio, as well as queried the failure of law enforcement agents to prevent mob action (Jungle justice) or punish offenders according to the dictates of the law.
(13) While it is incomprehensible how a Bill against Jungle justice turned to criminalize lawful Protest in a democratic state like Nigeria, Hon. Emeka Martins Chinedu is by this clarification advising well-meaning Nigerians to disregard incoherently deceptive News; stating that: he is not only a product of justice and a man of the people, but a believer in democracy where rule of law is sacrosanct.
Nnamdi Ukasanya is SA(Media & Publicity) to Hon. Emeka Martins Chinedu.(MHR)