Some lawyers yesterday criticized the Nigeria Police Force‘s warning that the usage of ‘No gree for anybody’, which some Nigerians have adopted as their 2024 slogan, has the potential to spark a national catastrophe.
Responding to the trend, Police Spokesperson Muyiwa Adejobi told reporters that intelligence reports reveal that the catchphrase has the potential to plunge the country into a major crisis.
The Force PRO stated that, while the slogan is considered ‘common language’, some in the security community regard it as ‘hazardous’.
“The new slogan for 2024 for young people is ‘No gree for anybody’.
“We have been informed from our intelligence that this is coming from the retributionary sector and might likely cause problems across the country.
“’No dey gree for anybody’ is being seen as just normal talk. In the security community, we have seen it as a very dangerous slogan that can trigger crises,” he said.
Lawyers, however, disagreed with the police’s position.
Femi Falana, SAN, a human rights activist, dismissed the warning as ludicrous, claiming that the police lack the authority to prohibit expression that poses no threat to law and order.
“No gree for anybody’ is an expression of antiquity, and the police cannot stop or criminalize it. When President Bola Tinubu came to Lagos recently, Nigerians expressed their feelings to him that there was hunger in the land. That is a form of ‘I no go gree’.
“The expression does not in any way constitute a threat to law and order. Nobody can be charged in court for using that expression, and if the police feel differently, they should refer us to the portion of the law that criminalizes such an ancient expression.”
Dr. Monday Ubani, former 2nd Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, also emphasized that while the police have the right to maintain peace in the country, this should not be used to infringe on citizens’ freedom of expression.
He said, “The security agencies are there to maintain law and order, so if the police say that they have carried out an investigation that suggests that the slogan is capable of causing a crisis in the country, they have a right to prevent it. In doing that, there must, however, be a balance.
“If people are expressing themselves without ulterior motives or the expression degenerating into a security threat, it will be wrong to infringe on people’s right to express themselves.
“I think the slogan is just a motivation for people and generates the right spirit in them to do the right thing, stand against any form of intimidation or oppression, and also improve their lives.
“As far as that is the case, it will be wrong for the police to stop people from expressing themselves. What is important is peace, and the police have the right to ensure peace in the country. If there is no peace in the country, investors cannot come in, so we must all ensure that there is peace in the country.”
Evans Ufeli, Executive Director of Cadrell Advocacy Centre, stated that the police warning was unnecessary, claiming that the security agency plainly misunderstood the slogan.
He said, “The police warning is unnecessary because the expression is not inciting. It is just a cultural expression and does not involve violence. I believe they have not really done any good research on the slogan.
“If you ask the youths and the millennials, they will tell you that it is a positive expression they have adopted to achieve their set goals for the year.