The members of the Abuja chapter of the #Bringbackourgirls campaign has reacted to the ban imposed on all protests related to the campaign by heading to court.
On Monday, the FCT Commissioner of Police Joseph Mbu ordered an immediate stop of the protests for ‘security reasons’, a move that has been branded a tactical political move by the police to divert attention from the government by protesters.
In a statement, Mbu told the media that it had become imperative to cancel all Bringbackourgirls protests as they now pose a threat to security in the country and to prevent the apparent ‘lawlessness’ of the situation.
“Information reaching us is that too soon dangerous elements will join the groups under the guise of protest and detonate explosive(s) aimed at embarrassing the government,” he said.
“Accordingly protests on the Chibok girls is hereby banned with immediate effect.”
Former education Minister and World Bank executive Oby Ezekwesili who frequently leads the protests in the Nigerian capital hit back at what she called the ‘illegitimacy’ of the decision, adding that the commissioner had ‘no right’ to stop a peaceful protest.
In a series of tweets, the former cabinet minister accused the Police boss of a conspiracy to silence the government’s opposition by imposing the ban.
“There is no basis for and no power of FCT Commissioner of Police to ban peaceful assembly of any group of persons in… the city. None@ ALL, ” she said.
“Mbu must assume that Nigerians are dumb. They arranged for thugs to attack a peaceful assembly of Women and watched on while it lasted…1/3”.
“When WE of the
#BringBackOurGirls AbujaFamily stoically remained CIVIL, their plans failed. WE relocated to Maitama Park. They locked us out”, she continues.
“Mbu knows that his fear is untenable. Is he saying that a bunch of thugs that attacked our peaceful assembly are STRONGER than our Police?”
In a press statement released by the group on Tuesday, the group expressed their ‘shock’ at having received the news of the ban adding that, “We wish to remind the Commissioner of Police Mbu that he cannot take any action that violates our Constitutionally guaranteed rights as citizens, particularly our rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, amongst others as enshrined in Chapter Four (Section 40) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended).”
The group also stated that they had received support from the Inspector general of Police of the federation who reiterated the “commitment of the Nigeria Police Force to the protection and enforcement of the fundamental rights of citizens.”
They also vowed to pursue legal means to challenge the commissioners decision concluding that “In the interim, we shall not hold our sit-out tomorrow 3rd June, because we shall be accompanying our lawyers to the Court where we hope to obtain an immediate restraint on this unconstitutional, undemocratic and repressive act. Our Movement is legitimate and lawful and cannot be arrested by the police whose responsibility is to enforce, not betray the law.”
The Bring back our girls protests were bourne out of a social media campaign with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls after over 250 girls were abducted from their school in the North Eatsern town of Chibok.
The protests have helped draw international attention to the plight of the missing girls as the Nigerian government faced criticisms about its slow response to the girls’ rescue.