The House of Representatives has began ruminating over a bill that seeks to ban all forms of protest, whether peaceful or non-peaceful protests.
The bill which is sponsored by a People’s Democratic Party Representative from Imo State, Chinedu Emeka Martin, is titled ‘An ACT to amend the Criminal Code Act, CAP 38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 to further preserve the sanctity of human life and property, and to provide specifically for mob action, prescribe punishment and other matters.’
When presenting the bill during Tuesday’s plenary, Emeka said, “When three or more persons, with intent to carry out some common purpose, assemble in such a manner or, being assembled, conduct themselves in such a manner as to cause persons in the neighbourhood to fear on reasonable grounds that the persons so assembled will tumultuously disturb the peace, or will by such assembly needlessly and without any reasonable occasion provoke other persons tumultuously to disturb the peace, they are an unlawful assembly. It is immaterial that the original assembling was lawful if, being assembled; they conduct themselves with a common purpose in such a manner as aforesaid.’’
It also states: “An assembly of three or more persons who assemble for the purpose of protecting any house against persons threatening to break and enter the house in order to commit a felony or misdemeanor therein is not an unlawful assembly.”
“When an unlawful assembly has begun to act in so tumultuous a manner as to disturb the peace, the assembly is called a riot, and the persons assembled are said to be riotously assembled.’When an unlawful assembly becomes violent as to commit unlawful acts against any person or property, the assembly is called a mob and their violent act is referred to as mob action. Any person who takes part in a riot is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for three years.”
“Any person who takes part in a mob action is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for five years.
Any persons who assembled together as a mob to commit violent act against any person or property are guilty of a felony and each of them is liable to imprisonment for life.’’