- Police ban on protest illegal, says rights group
Dele Ogbodo in Abuja and Chinenye Nduka, Chidinma Okonkwo and Eberechi Imo
The Inspector General of Police (IG), Mr. Ibrahim Idris, wednesday expressed worry over the activities of the #BringBackOurGirls (BBOGs) campaign group, led by Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, which he said was becoming a threat to public peace and order.
Addressing members of the National Council of Women’s Societies (NCWS) led by their National President, Mrs. Gloria Laraba Shoda, who paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja, he warned the BBOGs group not to trample on the rights of others by over dramatising emotions, self-serving propaganda and disrespect of public peace.
He said: “The police will not sit and watch such scenario unfold. The rights of the law abiding citizens must be protected within the context of the law. Enough is enough!
“We ask that they thread with caution and that their grievances be channeled within the ambit of the law.”
However, Idris said police are aware of the agitations and plight of parents of the abducted Chibok girls and other civil society organisations, adding that as parents, they also sympathise with the parents of the girls in these trying moments.
He said government had invested huge resources towards ensuring the girls are rescued and reunited with their various families.
In her remark, Shoda urged the police to look into the several allegations of rape made against policemen.
She said: “Without going into specific cases, we have read with dismay the frequent reports in the media in several states of girls, some as young as four years, and women being raped.”
According to her, all such allegations must be fully investigated and the law allowed to take its course where such reports have been found to merit prosecution.
On the protest by the BBOGs in Abuja, she said: “We commend your efforts in keeping peace within FCT, especially during the series of the recent protests. We recognised that one of the vocal protest groups, the BBOGs, had in recent times had near clashes with you.
“We use this occasion to appeal for calm and patience, so that these kinds of situation do not get out of hand.
“As mothers, we have confidence that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government will do all it can to ensure that the Chibok girls will be returned alive and safe to their parents.”
Meanwhile, the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) has rejected the ban on all forms of protests in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) by the FCT Police Command, describing it as extremely illegal and unacceptable.
The group in a statement signed and issued by its President, Malachy Ugwummadu, said the insistence of the FCT Police Command to extract applications and approvals from any person or group intending to protest in the FCT, “drudge up the old status of Nigerians in relation to their fundamental rights under the colonial rule of Great Britain.”
Ugwummadu in the statement explained that the primary motive of the colonial masters through the Public Order Act was to continually subjugate the views and capacities of Nigerian political activists to resist colonialisation and advance the struggle for independence.
“This is no longer the law both from the stand point of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) under Sections 39, 40 and 41 and by virtue of the Court of Appeal decision in ANPP vs IG as well as a recent Federal High Court (Abuja Division) decision on the same issue,” the statement said.
The CDHR chief noted that there was need for the members of the force to be conversant with the laws and judgments of the courts in order to enforce them pursuant with Section 297 of the Constitution and not to violate them.
The statement further stressed that the force and the FCT Police Command should be reminded that the country is presently under a constitutional arrangement which recognises the pivotal essence of the rights of every citizen to freely associate, express themselves and move freely.
“When these rights, among others, are abridged in the manner that the FCT police command seeks to do presently, then the country will clearly be sliding off the precincts and delineations of a proper democratic arrangement. These rights are not peculiar to Nigerians alone, but contained in other international and sub regional legal instruments such as the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a proud signatory already domesticated into the corpus of Nigeria laws,” the statement added.