Chidi Odinkalu, human rights lawyer, says President Muhammadu Buhari and security chiefs in the country “have become part of the problem” in Nigeria.
Odinkalu also accused the president of clamping down on human rights and opposing views in the country.
The lawyer was speaking during the launch of Civic Coalition for Democracy (CCD), a civil society group, at the Unity Fountain in Abuja, on Tuesday.
“Everyone has a right in a democracy to voice their opinion,” he said, adding: “But what we now have is a civic space that is no longer tolerant. Buhari with his security chiefs have become part of the problem. Citizens are being criminalised for having point of view that government does not like.”
He accused the police of “abandoning” victims of extrajudicial killings across the country while deploying its “might” at the fountain “to prevent citizens from excercising their rights.”
The Unity Fountain has been occupied by heavily armed policemen stationed in the area with armoured carriers since April 13.
The federal capital territory (FCT) police command had banned protests and rallies at the fountain, after accusing protesters that usually come there of inciting civil unrest.
Odinkalu taunted the police for “protecting us here (at the fountain) because we are too dangerous.”
“They are protecting us, as dangerous as we are, in their bullet proof vests, with armoured carriers,” he said.
“The people in Birnin Gwari don’t need protection. The inhabitants of Logo (in Benue state) don’t need protection. Those in Guma, Numan, and other places killings are taking place don’t need the police. Who are the people that need the police? Those in unity fountain. They are the people that the IGP has decided he must defeat.
“And so, our unity fountain built by Nigerian businessman, Ishiaku Rabiu, has been taken over by our federal government under police protection.
“The police had arrested the Unity Fountain. All the killers in various parts of the country, every one of them is not dangerous, but we are. And all these are happening under the president that promised change. ”
He said such situation is not the change Nigerians voted for, and “that is why we are here; you cannot arrest our democracy, nor the Unity Fountain.”