Many Nigerians have reacted to the banning of all protest concerning the Chibok girls by the commissioner of Police of the Federal Capital Territory, Joseph Mbu, saying that it is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.
Obi Ezekwesili, leader of the #BringBackOurGirls protest and former education minister, speaking last night on CNN said that the government was infringing on the constitutional right of the people to lawful assembly.
Also addressing the issue on her twitter handler @obiezeks, said there was no basis for banning the protest.
“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,” the former minister tweeted.
She observed that the #BringBackOurGirls group have only held sits in which have been entirely peaceful
Human rights lawyer, Festus Keyamo too released a statement last night condemning the Police ban on the Chibok protests, saying that it is against the spirit and letters of section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which all guarantee freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association.
“It is shocking that the Federal Government, hiding under the facade of the Police, has finally openly displayed its disdain for the public outcry over the kidnap of those innocent souls. The Federal Government would really have wished that we all went about our normal businesses and live in denial like it did for many weeks,” he said.
He said it was the height of irresponsibility and insensitivity to the plight of the Chibok girls and their family members that the federal government has shown it is more concerned about its image and self-preservation than the safety of the over 200 abducted girls.
“At a time when Government has not shown a capacity to protect lives and properties, it is even denying the citizens the basic right to cry out about Government’s inaction. It is like beating a child mercilessly and choking the child at the same time to prevent the child from crying out. It is inhuman, it is degrading and it is humiliating,” Keyamo noted.
He further asks that the ban be rescinded immediately or be prepared to arrest and lock up all Nigerians, implying that the protesters will not be deterred by the order and that if anything, more people would join in the campaign to #bringbackourgirls.
Mbu, on Monday announced the ban at a news conference in Abuja, explaining that the trend of the protest in the FCT was posing a serious security threat.
“Accordingly, protests on the Chibok girls are hereby banned with immediate effect. As the FCT police boss, I cannot fold my hands and watch this lawlessness (protests). Information reaching us is that too soon, dangerous elements will join groups under the guise of protest and detonate explosives aimed at embarrassing the government,” he said.
The CP added that the persistent protest which has lasted over a month has become a nuisance to the government, stressing that the bane of the remonstration, which is terrorism, is not solved in a day.
Over 200 secondary school female finalists were kidnapped from the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State on April 14 and even though the military announced last Tuesday that it had located the place where the girls are being held, it is not certain how they intend to free them without compromising their safety.