Peaceful Assembly in Nigeria

Section 40 of the Nigerian Constitution recognises the right to conduct peaceful protest, but in practice the exercise of this right is often stifled by unlawful interference from security agents. The Public Order Act regulates assemblies and contains some restrictive provisions, including one that gives the government the power to dictate the time and route of demonstrations. Following a judicial decision, authorisation is no longer required to conduct a protest, however, police have at times disregarded the court ruling. In some areas of the country, governors have banned protests, especially pro-Biafra marches. Security forces often use excessive force to disperse protests, with fatal consequences in some cases, such as the recent Pro-Biafrans march that resulted in 10 people being killed by security agents. Authorities have also stopped protests related to the Boko Haram insurgency under the pretext that such protests could cause disharmony and anarchy.