THE Federal Government has advised the citizens to be law-abiding before, during and after the festive season.

This was contained in a statement yesterday by the Ministry of Interior’s Permanent Secretary Mr. Bassey Okon Akpanyung.

The statement said the President Muhammadu Buhari administration would respect and uphold the rights of citizens as enshrined in the Constitution.

“Incorporated in these rights is the ‘freedom from fear’, which every citizen must enjoy. It is within this purview that it becomes necessary to emphasise that the government will ensure that the lives and properties of persons, groups or organisations are protected.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Federal Government will continue to protect citizens’ rights to assemble freely and associate with other persons without hindrance; protect the freedom of thought, conscience and religion; and protect the freedom of expression,” it stated.

The ministry, however, said every citizen was under obligation to recognise and respect the rights of his or her fellow citizens, especially on matters regarding public order, safety and security.

It warned: “No serious government will fold its arms to allow the security breach of the kind, which threatens the peaceful coexistence and sovereignty of its society.

“It is, therefore, imperative to remind ourselves that as long as demonstrations or processions are peaceful and do not infringe on the rights of others, the government will direct security agencies to protect the individuals or groups involved in such demonstrations or processions.

“Democracy has provided vehicles through which citizens can convey their grievances without resorting to violence, and in our particular case, there are state governments and their assemblies; representatives and senators of the National Assembly; and the judiciary.

“It is expected that persons with grievances take advantage of using these opportunities, instead of resorting to violence.”

The ministry said the country’s experience with separatist groups, such as Biafra movements and Boko Haram in the last few years, depicted individuals or groups taking laws into their hands, “situations that sometimes led to violent clashes with security agencies.”

It added that it was important for the citizenry to be law-abiding, even while expressing their grievances.

“As a result of increased movements and activities during the end of year and beginning of a new season, the Ministry of Interior has coordinated with security agencies under its supervision, and other security agencies, to ensure that the safety and security of law-abiding citizens are guaranteed in line with our constitutional responsibilities.

“We are drawing the attention of Nigerians, especially in this Yuletide season, of the necessity to keep their eyes and ears open, and report suspicious activities or persons, especially in motor-parks, airports, mosques and churches, markets and other public places,” it said.

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