RIGHT TO PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY AND ASSOCIATION IN NIGERIA

The Constitution of Nigeria provides for the right to peaceful assembly and the right to association.

CHAMAN LAW FIRM

6/15/2022 2 min read

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RIGHT TO PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY AND ASSOCIATION IN NIGERIA

The Constitution of Nigeria provides for the right to peaceful assembly and the right to association. Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria posits:

“Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association”

It has been noted that although the provision of the right to assembly and association provided in the Nigerian constitution does not include the term “peaceful” it can be generally induced. This is because an assembly which causes chaos would be contrary to public order and public policy and unconstitutional as it affects the rights of others. In line with this, Section 45 (1) of the 1999 Constitution provides that such right may be limited by law in certain instances:

“Nothing in section 37,38, 39, 40 and 41 of the Constitution shall invalidate any law that is reasonably justified in a democratic society in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health; or for the purposes of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons. “

The limitation placed on the right to peaceful assembly and association was decided in the case of FGN v Oshiomhole, where the plaintiff sought that the planned mass protest against the government should be declared contrary to public order, peace and policy in the nation, and that the defendants through interlocutory injunctions should be prevented from embarking on such protest. The Court observed that the right to peaceful assembly and association under Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution was not accorded with absolute freedom as it was limited under section 45 of the Constitution together with other laws. The court however held that the case of the plaintiff was unfounded in law. It should be emphasised that this case is notable because although the court did not rule in favour of the plaintiff, it however decided that the right to peaceful assembly and association is not absolute but limited by the provisions of the Constitution and other laws.

In the notable case of Alhaji Dakubo-Asari v Federal Republic of Nigeria, the limitation of all fundamental human rights, including the right to peaceful assembly, on the basis of defence was given practical importance. In that case, Alhaji Dakubo-Asari was arrested and his freedom restricted including his right to bail. The prosecutors noted that his fundamental human rights were restricted on the basis of national defence. The respondent contended that such restriction were nevertheless an infringement if his fundamental human right. The court per Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad. J.S.C found that the fact of the case established a prima facie case of felony and which was a matter of national defence and security; that the fundamental human rights of a person are not absolute and may be restricted on the ground of national defence and held that the lower courts were right in ruling that the rights of the accused were not violated. Following from this case, the right to peaceful assembly may be restricted if a gathering is considered a threat to the security of the nation or a felonious crime.

NB: This article is not a legal advice, and under no circumstance should you take it as such. All information provided are for general purpose only. For information, please contact chamanlawfirm@gmail.com

WRITTEN BY CHAMAN LAW FIRM TEAM

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