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Pulse Opinion Oby Ezekwesili doesn't deserve police harassment

Oby Ezekwesili was harassed by security personnel when she marched to Aso Rock. It could all have been better handled.

  • Published:
Ezekwesili calls on Nigerians to protect, exercise voting rights play

Dr Oby Ezekwesili

(@Judd_Leonard)

When Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili led a protest to the Aso Rock gates with a banner in her vice grip, she was stopped by overzealous security personnel who first tried to seize her banner before engaging her and other members of her group in some kind of bare-knuckled struggle.

Ezekwesili and her group were walking the streets of Abuja to protest the recent killings of over 200 persons in Plateau and the incessant killings by herdsmen or gunmen in what has become a restive middle belt region. These were sufficient reasons to march to the seat of power for answers.

There is the argument that the security chaps were simply doing their jobs because Madam Ezekwesili could well have been a national security threat as she approached the Aso Rock gates; or that any other member of her group could have been bearing arms.

 

But there are better ways for police or law enforcement to engage civil society than engaging them in a fight and creating a scene. The video of what transpired on Tuesday, June 26, doesn’t portray the Aso Rock security detail in great light. The seat of power or public buildings belong to every tax payer and there should be rules of engagement for security personnel watching over public offices and spaces.

The head of the security team should have engaged Ezekwesili and her group in a civil conversation, asked them what their grievances were as politely as possible and allowed Ezekwesili to place her banner exactly where she wanted. I do not know that banners bite or blow up buildings. It was just a banner with the word ‘help’ in bold, red lettering. It was a harmless banner.

 

Yet the police or military personnel like elsewhere across Nigeria, are cut from the same cloth. They fume, they threaten with guns, they blare, they harass, they kick innocent ass, they bark, but they never bite the robbers and terrorists rampaging the land.

Ezekwesili has been on the streets every other day since 2014, to demand action from government on a range of issues from the abduction of schoolgirls to better economic conditions for everyone. The least anyone can do is applaud her guts, listen to her and be civil toward her and her team. Harassing her before cameras and the watching world is demeaning and totally unacceptable--more so in a democratic dispensation.

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