The recent caution issued by the Nigerian Police against adopting the slogan ‘No Gree For Anybody’ as the 2024 motto has sparked criticism from legal professionals, who argue that it may incite a crisis in the nation.
The catchphrase, interpreted as ‘refusing to accept any unwarranted behavior‘ or ‘resisting intimidation from anyone,’ gained popularity among Nigerians, particularly on social media platforms. Police Spokesperson, Muyiwa Adejobi, expressed concerns about the phrase potentially leading the country into a significant crisis based on intelligence reports.
However, legal experts, including human rights activist Femi Falana, SAN, find the warning laughable, asserting that the Police lack the authority to prohibit the expression. Falana argued that the phrase poses no threat to law and order and challenged the Police to identify any legal basis for such restrictions.
Former 2nd Vice-President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Monday Ubani, emphasized that while the Police are tasked with maintaining peace, it should not serve as a pretext for violating citizens’ rights to freedom of expression. He urged a balance between maintaining law and order and upholding the people’s right to express themselves.
Executive Director of Cadrell Advocacy Centre, Evans Ufeli, deemed the Police warning unwarranted, asserting that the security agency had misconstrued the meaning behind the slogan. Ufeli argued that the expression is a positive and cultural way for the youth to voice their goals for the year.
In response to the controversy, the army urged Nigerians to adopt the slogan ‘We no go gree for all terrorists in 2024’ and join forces with security agencies in the ongoing battle against criminal elements. Director of Defence Media Operation, Maj Gen Edward, encouraged Nigerians to demonstrate solidarity by saying, ‘We no go gree for terrorists.’
The disagreement over the interpretation and impact of the catchphrase reflects a broader debate on freedom of expression and the role of law enforcement in regulating public discourse in Nigeria.