The right to freely assemble can be exercised by organizing or participating in any of the following:
The right to freedom of assembly can be enjoyed by every person; individuals, groups, associations (whether registered or unregistered), religious bodies, legal entities, and trade unions. It also extends to children, refugees, stateless persons, temporary visitors, migrants, and foreign nationals.
Section 40 CFRN: “Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interest.”
The right to Freedom of assembly is not absolute. Various laws that seek to protect this right also lay down certain circumstances in which this right can be limited and not enjoyed in total. These limitations include:
An example of limitation for the protection of public health is the COVID 19 pandemic, because of the pandemic, government laid down policies to reduce the transmission of the virus. These policies included the ban of gatherings above ten people as well as a ban on religious gatherings. These measures clearly restrict the individual’s right to freely assemble but is in line with the provisions of the law.
Similarly, an example of limitation in the interest of national security is the restriction of public gatherings in certain locations of the North-East in Nigeria in an effort to curb the insurgency and acts of terrorism. As a means to protect citizens, government made policies that tend to limit the right to freely assemble.
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Section 45 (1) provides that;
“Nothing in sections 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41 of this Constitution shall invalidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.
(a) in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, or public health; or
(b) for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom or other persons.”
The right to freedom of assembly can be breached by individuals as well as government agencies in any of the following ways: