The #BringBackOurGirls protesters in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, have hired prominent lawyer, Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, to challenge the ban on protests over the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls from their dormitories in Chibok.
The legal fireworks against the government will begin this afternoon, the leadership of the group said.
The Commissioner of Police in Abuja, Joseph Mbu, had on Monday said protests demanding the rescue of the girls, abducted 50 days ago, pose serious security threat to the country.
Mr. Mbu, known to violently crack down on protesters, including students and lecturers of higher institutions, announced the ban at a news conference in Abuja.
“Protests on the Chibok girls are hereby banned with immediate effect,” Mr. Mbu said. “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. As the FCT police boss, I cannot fold my hands and watch this lawlessness.”
But in a notice to its members Tuesday morning, the #BringBackOurGirls campaigners said they would challenge the ban today.
“In light of the ban of all Chibok Girls protest issued by CP Mbu, we wish to inform you that our lawyers, Femi Falana, SAN of Falana Chambers will be filling a suit today to challenge the legality of the action,” one of the leaders of the campaign, Hadiza Usman, said in the notice.
“Our sit-out for today shall not hold as we shall all convey at the court to accompany our lawyer to file the suit. I will forward to all by 11 a.m the exact time and location of converging to proceed to for the filing.”
Earlier, the protesters had issued a statement denouncing the ban and vowing not to give in to government’s intimidation.
“We, the members of the #BringBackOurGirls Abuja Family, remain resolute and will persist in using all lawful means to sustain our peaceful advocacy for the safe rescue of the Chibok Girls. We therefore encourage all those in Nigeria and other Nations that have similarly taken a stand for the cause of the girls to continue to do so with the clarion call: BRING BACK OUR GIRLS, NOW AND ALIVE!!!”
Read full statement below.
Re: Purported Ban on All Protests on the Chibok Girls in FCT by Police Commissioner
We are members of the #BringBackOurGirls Abuja Family, a citizens movement advocating for the speedy rescue of the over 200 girls abducted from Chibok Secondary School, Borno state. Ours has been a single-issue campaign for the safe return of the abducted girls. In the last 34 days we have done so through peaceful daily sit-outs, and some marches to key governmental actors urging them to act swiftly to rescue the girls from the terrorists.
Earlier today we received with shock the statement credited to the FCT Commissioner of Police Joseph Mbu that “…All Protests on the Chibok Girls is hereby banned with immediate effect…”
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).
We are puzzled about the inconsistencies in the communication emanating from the Nigerian Police. We recall that on 12th May, 2014, the Nigeria Police Force on its website published a news item with the title: “Police Not Against Peaceful Assemblies” in which the Inspector-General of Police, M.D. Abubakar restated the commitment of the Nigeria Police Force to the protection and enforcement of the fundamental rights of citizens.
Over the last 34 days, we have been widely acknowledged, including by the Police and the Federal Government delegation, which represented President Jonathan at one of our meetings for the peaceful, disciplined, and decorous manner we have always conducted the activities of our movement. In consonance with our approach, we shalltomorrow be in court with our lawyers, Femi Falana SAN to file a suit challenging this purported ban by C.P. Mbu.
In the interim, we shall not hold our sit-out tomorrow 3rdJune, 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.
We, the members of the #BringBackOurGirls Abuja Family, remain resolute and will persist in using all lawful means to sustain our peaceful advocacy for the safe rescue of the Chibok Girls. We therefore encourage all those in Nigeria and other Nations that have similarly taken a stand for the cause of the girls to continue to do so with the clarion call: BRING BACK OUR GIRLS, NOW AND ALIVE!!!
Oby Ezekwesili and Hadiza Bala Usman
For the #BringBackOurGirls Abuja Family