LET JUSTICE ROLL DOWN LIKE WATERS By Babatunde Olugboji
What does the Bible say about justice? What does the law say about the right to peaceful protest, which was what the #EndSARS protesters were pursuing before the protests were brought down forcefully? The right to peaceful protest is widely recognized and protected under Nigerian laws, and under regional and international standards.
International law protects the rights to freedom of association, peaceful assembly, and expression. These rights are recognized in various treaties which Nigeria has voluntarily and legally committed to, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
To better define the right to protest, the United Nations and regional mechanisms, such as the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, have developed international standards, which include general principles that apply before, during and after a protest.
Article 21 of the ICCPR says: The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. Under the African Charter, Article 10 protects the right to freedom of association, Article 11 talks about the right to freedom of assembly, while Article 12 recognizes the right to freedom of movement.
The right to protest is the individual and, or collective exercise of existing and universally recognized human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, the right to take part in the conduct of public affairs, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, the right to participation in cultural life, the rights to life, privacy, liberty and security of a person and the right to nondiscrimination. The right to protest is also essential to securing all human rights, including economic, social, and cultural rights.
Now, let us examine what the Bible says about matters of justice. Proverbs 21: 15 says when justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers. If you know some of those who were involved in the killings, of young people and law enforcement officers or others, let them know that what they did was evil. Amos 5:24 adds: But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Justice has certainly not been rolling down like waters in Nigeria.
The Bible says in Isaiah 1:17: Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. The young people protesting were seeking justice; army officers who shot them, including those who authorized the shootings, must learn to do good. And Isaiah 30:18 says: Therefore, the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. This should make those connected to the suppression of the protests pause.
And in Micah 6:8, the Bible says: He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? What God requires from believers in government are justice, love, kindness, and humility.
Nigeria authorities have now set up judicial panels to investigate the forceful response of security agencies to the protests, let us pray that justice shall not only be done, but seen to have been done. I declare that the Nigerian nation shall know peace, God shall be merciful on the nation, and the Holy Spirit will comfort those who lost loved ones in the crisis.
Kingdom Dynamics, a weekly column is written by Dr. Babatunde Olugboji, the President, Kingdom House, a non-profit organization in New Jersey, USA.