The police and protesters in Kaduna are poised for showdown today as activists in the state prepare to lead protesters along the streets of Kaduna in defiance of the state government’s order banning any form of demonstration in the metropolis.
The Kaduna State Government had yesterday imposed a 24-hour curfew on the city, citing security concerns as reason.
Announcing the curfew after an emergency security council meeting in Kaduna, the state Commissioner of Police, Ballah Nasarawa, said the curfew was imposed to restore normalcy in the state capital and prevent miscreants from taking over peaceful protests.
But speaking to Premium Times a while ago, President of the Civil Rights Congress, Shehu Sani, said he and other activists in the state would not comply with the “punitive curfew”.
He said it was unacceptable for the state government to impose a curfew when citizens were trying to exercise their rights to protest the sudden cut in fuel subsidy which has foisted severe hardship on them.
“As I speak to you now, we are just waiting for some of our colleagues to arrive,” Mr. Sani said on the telephone. “We are pouring into the streets as soon as everyone gathers.”
But the police says it expects activists in the state to be law-abiding and respect the curfew. “We can’t imagine that anyone will violate the law,” Aminu Lawan, spokesperson of the Kaduna Police Command, told Premium Times. “But if anyone breaks the curfew, we know what to do.”
Mr. Sani however said he and his colleagues were ready to go to jail over the matter. As leaders of this protest, we have chosen to come out today to defy this reactionary curfew,” he said in a statement emailed to Premium Times a while ago.
“We are quite aware that we risk being arrested or even shot at by state forces with penchant for extra judicial killings.
“We are breaking this curfew today because we consider the curfew as a state violation of our fundamental right to protest.
“We reject all security reasons given by the government to justify the imposition of this curfew. This protest is non-violent. It is unprecedented and historic in the annals of Kaduna state and Nigeria.
“The protest we are leading is a protest against economic slavery, against social injustice and against the thieving culture of our political leaders. The president is not the government, the governors are not the government it’s we the people that are the government.”