News June 03, 2014 at 10:55 am

UPDATE: Abuja Police Remove #BringBackOurGirls Protest Ban

Abena Agyeman-Fisher | Editor-in-chief, F2FA

Abena Agyeman-Fisher June 03, 2014 at 10:55 am

June 03, 2014 at 10:55 am | News

#bringbackourgirls ban

UPDATED 6:12 A.M., 6/4/14: Seemingly giving in to the pressure of community organizers, the public, and the law of the letter in the Constitution, the Police High Command released a statement on Tuesday saying that no bans would be put in place against #BringBackOurGirls demonstrators in Abuja. The Police High Command’s official press release is below:

The Police High Command wishes to inform the general public that the Force has not issued any order banning peaceful assemblies/protests anywhere in Nigeria. It notes however that against the backdrop of current security challenges in the country, coupled with a recent intelligence report of a likely infiltration and hijack of otherwise innocuous and peaceful protests by some criminal elements having links with insurgents, the Police only issued advisory notice, enjoining citizens to apply caution in the said rallies, particularly in the Federal Capital Territory and its environs.

Reminding citizens of the earlier position of the Force on peaceful rallies, which the Police High Command regards as the constitutional and democratic rights of Nigerians, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, M D. Abubakar, CFR, NPM, mni, psc, stresses the need for the organizers of such rallies to ensure that they seek proper advice and guidance from the Police before engaging in any such exercise so as to avoid any unpleasant circumstances. The IGP calls on the general public to see the present position of the Force as a necessary sacrifice for the peace our nation needs, as security is a collective responsibility.

Consequently, citizens are strongly advised to reconsider their positions on the issues of rallies and protests in FCT until the existing threats are appropriately neutralized and removed from our midst by relevant security agencies.

Meanwhile, the IGP reassures citizens of the commitment of the Force to the protection of lives and property and advancing the course of democracy in Nigeria.

Obviously, this statement contradicts Police Commissioner Joseph Mbu’s original statement that enforced the ban on June 2nd. Face2Face Africa was able to secure Mbu’s initial statement. Read it below:

1. (a) You will recall that the first peaceful protest on the “BRING BACK OUR GIRLS” (Chibok) took place on the 28th April, 2014 which I took part in the procession until when the Senate President and Speaker addressed them. The protest continued and on the 22nd May, 2014 they were again addressed by over Ten Ministers, SGF and others. They are still unrelenting; the group has now shifted to Maitama Amusement Park. This area is very close to the residence of Diplomats.

(b)    Again a new group RELEASE OUR GIRLS suddenly emerged and started the same protest, it has degenerated to the extent that they are now selling and cooking at the Unity Fountain. The trend is now posing a serious security threat to those living around and citizens who drive through. We are all aware of what happened yesterday 01/06/2014 in Mubi Adamawa State.

As the FCT Police boss, I cannot fold my hands and watch this lawlessness, Information reaching us is that too soon dangerous elements will join the groups under the guise of protest and detonate explosive aimed at embarrassing the government. Accordingly protests on the Chibok Girls is hereby banned with immediate effect. I urge all to encourage our security agencies in this war and appreciate them for the sacrifices we have made and are still making.

2.      BAN ON TINTED GLASSES – Let me warn for the last time that the ban on tinted glasses is still in force, the police have given enough period of grace, the only authority to grant tinted glasses permit is the Inspector General himself under his hand and signature. Yes there is a period when permit was granted but the recent security challenges have made the Police Authority to revisit the permit issue and have resolved to revoke same and the permit issued so far remain revoked. You are hearing this from my mouth the FCT Police boss CP MBCU J. MBU.

 

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On Monday, Nigerian police banned all #BringBackOurGirls protests in Abuja, citing a “security threat,” but grassroots community leaders, who spoke exclusively with Face2Face Africa, said they would take their constitutional right to protest to the courts and bemoaned what they see as the government’s tactics to suppress their movement.

RELATED: President Jonathan Declares ‘Total War’ on Boko Haram on Democracy Day

Referencing a “scuffle” that supposedly broke out at one of last week’s rallies between #BringBackOurGirls protestors and the newly government-funded Agency for Nigeria, Abuja Police Commissioner Joseph Mbu said that the daily protests that have been taking place on behalf of the missing girls of Chibok are banned, because they are “now posing a serious security threat.”

According to Mbu, the demonstrations that have been taking place in order to pressure the government to find the missing girls, have “degenerated” because they present opportunities for “dangerous elements” to participate in the functions.

But Centre for Democracy and Development Director Jibrin Ibrahim countered the commissioner’s claims, adding that the actual threat came from the strategically placed Agency for Nigeria organization, “The government funded a group to come and disrupt our peaceful sit-in and attack us and he is now using that fact to say there is a threat.

“It was strange the government should feel that protesters could not call on it to provide nationwide security, [which is] its “constitutional responsibility,” Ibrahim said.

Face2Face Africa spoke with community grassroots organization Enough is Enough (EiE) Yemi AdamolekunExecutive Director Yemi Adamolekun (pictured right), who concurred with Ibrahim’s assessment and spoke to the public’s feelings about the ban, saying, “People are angry and quite sad really.
At a time when we should rally as one country and face a common enemy, Boko Haram, the federal government continues to pitch itself against its own citizens.”

Adamolekun also said that the police’s announcement makes her question the government’s commitment to dismantling Boko Haram, “It really makes me wonder if they are really serious about dealing with Boko Haram and doing all they can to #BringBackOurGirls or [are] they more focused on dissuading citizens from holding them accountable.”

When Face2Face Africa asked Adamolekun why she thinks the government is responding in this way, she contended that the government is trying to distract Nigerians from the issue, “[The government is likely] annoyed at being held accountable and [they have a] disdain for the rights of Nigerian citizens. [The ban] might also be a ploy to provoke a violent reaction so they’ll have justification for other propaganda.

“Under the banner of Women for Peace & Justice asking the government of Nigeria (federal, state & local) to bring back our girls, this is another distraction from our core issue, but we will not falter. It’s day 50 and we continue to demand BRING BACK OUR GIRLS NOW & ALIVE!!!

Adamolekun also says that they will NOT stop their daily protests in spite of what the Abuja police demand, “EiE and other CSOs and well-meaning Nigerians will continue to exercise our constitutional rights to freedom of peaceful assembly. We will also challenge this in court.

“The national assembly, state governors, and the judiciary should speak in one voice and unequivocally [state that] this pronouncement is unconstitutional and should be ignored.”

EiE — as well as other #BringBackOurGirls activists and organizations — plans to go to the courts and challenge the police on Tuesday.

 

RELATED: Nigerian Official: We Know Where Missing Girls Are

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