Lagos lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has described the ban by Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris, on public protests in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as illegal.
Ibrahim gave the directive on Wednesday following a “clash” between the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaigners and a pro- President Muhammadu Buhari group in Abuja, on Wednesday.
Falana lamented that through the ban, the IGP had “exposed the federal government to avoidable embarrassment.”
He said: “Sequel to the purported clash, the Inspector-General of Police had called the BBOG members and announced an illegal ban on public protests in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“Since the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people (including former members of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) who are now in the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government) to assemble peacefully and demonstrate without any official harassment have been upheld by Nigerian courts, the illegal ban on public protests in the Federal Capital Territory by the Inspector-General of Police will not be allowed to stand.
“More so, that it is principally aimed at stopping the demand for the unconditionally release of the Chibok girls from the illegal incarceration of the Boko Haram sect.”
Falana said instead of “demonizing” the BBOG campaigners, the country owed them a duty “for upholding our collective humanity.”
He continued: “By accusing the BBOG campaigners of engaging in subversion by legitimately demanding for the abducted Chibok girls, the Inspector-General of Police has exposed the federal government to avoidable embarrassment.
“Since the BBOG members have demonstrated unprecedented courage and determination to continue to protest until Chibok girls are brought back home, the police and the security forces should be directed by President Muhammadu Buhari to desist from harassing them in any manner whatsoever and howsoever.”
Falana added that through “selfless sacrifice and uncommon commitment,” the BBOG campaigners mounted a global campaign “which drew the attention of all men and women of goodwill to the plight of the innocent girls and the mental and the psychological agony to which their parents have been subjected.”
“In particular, the BBOG members have successfully mobilised the United Nations (UN), world leaders and the global human rights community to demand for the unconditional release of the abducted girls.
“But for the effective campaign which has been relentlessly waged by the BBOG members through peaceful protests which are held on a daily basis at Abuja in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the Federal Government and the Nigerian people would have forgotten about the Chibok girls.”
Leader of the #BringBackOurGirls (#BBOG) advocacy Oby Ezekwesili said yesterday that nobody could threaten them since they were bonafide citizens of the country.
Ezekwesili, who added that their rights are guaranteed by the constitution, advised the Inspector General of Police to educate himself properly about democracy and citizens’ right to peaceful assembly.
She also said the previous administration administration used similar tactics to try to violate their rights but their rights was upheld by the constitution and court.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja, at the usual sitout of the group, Ezekwesili said,
“Our response is he should ask for the file that recorded our advocacy between 2014 and 2015 when the previous administration used all kinds of tactics similar to this one to try to violate our constitutional liberty, not only did the constitution uphold that right, the court also upheld our rights, he should just read this files, he should be able to find what he needs in order to educate himself properly about democracy and citizens right to peaceful assembly.
“We are a peaceful movement as everyone knows, so we are not changing anything, no retreat, no surrender, are our girls back? If the government says that we are unreasonable in demanding for our Chibok girls in the way that we have been demanding for them since 2014, they need to show the evidence that counters our stance.
“For us as a movement, we plead for the rescue video of August 14th which is an incredible opportunity for our government, which really conveyed a message to the world.”
The unity fountain was devoid of police presence by the time of the sitout.
The policemen who took positions at the Abuja Fountain earlier in the day left before the sitout started. The Nation