The Nigerian Government has said it was wrong for students mobilised by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to block the Lagos-Ibadan expressway in protest against the prolonged strike by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
NANS, the umbrella body of the Nigerian students, had on Tuesday mobilised students from different public universities to occupy the significant expressway which connects Southwest Nigeria to the North, Southeast and South-south zones.
The student protest caused traffic gridlock on the road and left motorists and passengers stranded.
They vowed to lay siege to the major highway and others to drive home their demand to end the strike.
But Babatunde Fashola, Nigeria’s Minister of Works and Housing, said the protest by the students at the expressway violated the country’s constitution.
Fashola spoke in Abuja on Wednesday at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa.
The Minister stated that the 1999 constitution, as amended, recognises and protects citizens’ right to public protests but does not empower any Nigerian to “inflict pain and inconvenience on other people.”
He appealed for more patience from Nigerians, saying there was no alternative route in the already built-up areas.
“Once again, I apologise and empathise with commuters who need that place to get on with their lives.”
‘’It’s the place we left to the last really because it’s the most built-up area, the last six kilometres into Lagos; very densely populated and occupied. There’s very little room for alternative routes for people. So, you just have to bear with us.
“I also heard that some aggrieved students, under the aegis of NANS, are going to the road to protest. My respectful view is that is not helpful at all to the citizens.
“The right to protest is a very well-protected right in our constitution, but it does not include the right to inflict pain and inconvenience on other people. And so, whilst the protests can go on, they should refrain from blocking the road to do their protests. That in itself is a violation of the law.”