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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05LAGOS1919
2005-12-20 09:59:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Consulate Lagos
Cable title:  

NIGERIAN POLICE GAS PROTESTORS, IGNORE SUPREME

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  PHUM  NI 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

200959Z Dec 05
						UNCLAS LAGOS 001919 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - HANDLE ACCORDINGLY

STATE FOR AF/W
STATE FOR INR/AA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIAN POLICE GAS PROTESTORS, IGNORE SUPREME
COURT

REF: ABUJA 1153



1. (U) On December 16, over two hundred mostly professional
women calling themselves the Concerned Mothers of Nigeria
gathered at the Sheraton Hotel in Lagos to protest perceived
GON negligence in handling the recent Bellview and Sosoliso
Airlines airplane crashes. Attempting to force the
protestors to disperse, police teargassed the non-violent
group, three of whom, including the daughter-in-law of a
former Chief Justice, went to a local hospital for treatment
of injuries sustained during the protest.



2. (U) Police Inspector General, Sunday Ehindero, cut short
a trip to Edo State to personally apologize to Lagosians for
the heavy-handedness of the action, as well as to report the
arrest of all policemen involved. At the same time, he
called the protest "illegal" since the organizers did not
apply for a permit. Ehindero did well as a politician
apologizing for what most Nigerians see as an egregious
action taken against well-meaning women. However, as a
lawyer claiming the protest was illegal, he stumbled. In
June (reftel), the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional
to require a permit as a prerequisite to peaceful protests.
Lagos State Governor Bola Tinubu and Nobel Laureate Wole
Soyinka have publicly called for an investigation.



3. (SBU) Comment. There was no reason to take such brusque
action. To do so against a group that included some of
Lagos's distinguished women only compounded the error.
Police dissatisfaction with the June Supreme Court verdict
was clear from the moment of the announcement of the
decision. Now, some policemen have openly flouted the
ruling. We will get a good idea for how well the new
leadership of police -- Ehindero has been at the helm just a
few months -- respects the rule of law. Ehindero erred when
he called the protest illegal. For the sake of human rights
in Nigeria, activists and attorneys hope he will correct that
error and initiate an investigation that will serve as a
deterrent to future mistreatment of peaceful demonstrators.
End Comment.
BROWNE