#BringBackOurGirls protesters to challenge police ban in court

Former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili

The protesters said that they will go to court on Tuesday to secure a restraining order against the police.

The #BringBackOurGirls protesters have declared their intention to go to court to challenge a ban on their protests in Abuja.

The protesters stated this via their twitter handle, quoting one of their leaders, Oby Ezekwesili.
“#BringBackOurGirls @BBOG_Nigeria

we will go to court tomorrow to seek a restraining order against the police – @obyezeks #BringBackOurGirls”.

The protesters decision follows public outrage and condemnations that have trailed the decision of the Nigeria Police Force to ban all protests, in the Nigerian capital, demanding freedom for the over 250 schoolgirls kidnapped in Chibok, Borno State.

Joseph Mbu, the Abuja Commissioner of Police, announced the ban on Monday; days after suspected pro-government thugs, attacked protesters, largely women, who have been holding daily peaceful protests in Abuja.

“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,’’ Mr. Mbu said. “As the FCT police boss, I cannot fold my hands and watch this lawlessness.”

In an angry reaction to the pronouncement, Ms. Ezekwesili, former Education Minister and one of the leaders of the #BringBackOurGirls protests, said that it was an infringement on citizens’ democratic rights.

“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 at all,” Ms. Ezekwesili, a former Vice President of the World Bank, said via her twitter handle.

“We of the AbujaFamily of #BringBackOurGirls have in the face of harassment by both the Nigerian Police and hired thugs maintained our civility.

“What Commissioner Mbu should do is reprimand their sponsored thugs who attacked us, women at our peaceful gathering. He can. He hired them.

Last week, bottle-wielding thugs attacked the #BringBackOurGirls protesters at the Unity Fountain in Abuja, destroying their seats and forcibly confiscating their phones and cameras, while a group of police officers, ostensibly deployed to maintain order, looked on.

“When their thugs attacked us while Mbu’s policemen stood aloof, we refused to engage with their gutter conduct. We figured this was their plot,” Ms. Ezekwesili continued.

“Predictably, Mbu has proven by his latest ill advised statement of repression of Citizens Rights that he and his bosses hired those thugs.

“If Mbu’s daughter were one of the over 200 daughters of Nigeria held captive by terrorists and we came out to stand for their cause, he would do this?” Mrs. Ezekwesili added.

The former minister assured the families of those whose daughters were kidnapped that of their continued support.

“No matter how direly they want to take our focus off our #ChibokGirls, we shall not permit them that luxury,” she added.

The protesters said that they will go to court on Tuesday to secure a restraining order against the police.

Also, Festus Keyamo, a human rights lawyer, described the police ban on the protesters as the “height of irresponsibility and insensitivity” to the plight of the Chibok girls and their family members.

Mr. Keyamo stated that the pronouncement by the Police Commissioner was “unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.”

“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. All the above guarantee freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association,” said Mr. Keyamo.

“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.

“The Government has shown that it is more concerned about its image and self-preservation than the safety of those 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,” he added.

Mr. Keyamo further called on the Police Commissioner to rescind his order or prepare to arrest and lock up all Nigerians.

“Even the military did not succeed in muzzling Nigerians like the Federal Government wants to do by this feeble Order,” he added.

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