#BringBackOurGirls vows to continue rally despite police ban

The #BringBackOurGirls group on Wednesday said it would defy the ban on public protests by the Nigeria Police Force and carry on with its rally.

The group insists that the police have no power under the law to ban rallies.

#BringBackOurGirls has since 2014 been campaigning for the release of over 200 schoolgirls abducted by the extremist group, Boko Haram, from Government Secondary School, Chibok, in April that year.

The new round of protest march by the group began August 23 after Boko Haram released a video indicating the girls were alive.

After the release of the video, the group said it would march to the presidential villa every 72 hours, until the government makes clear the steps it was taking to recover the girls from the terrorists.

On Monday, the police announced the ban on public rallies and tried to stop the group from marching to the presidential villa on Tuesday.

But the group forced its way through police cordon and headed for the Three Arm Zone, its members were blocked by a group of pro-Buhari protesters angry with the #BBOG campaign.

Speaking with PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone conversation on Wednesday, a spokesperson of the group, Aisha Yesufu, said the police have no right to ban public protests.

“Of course the rally will continue. The constitutional duty of the police is to protect lives and properties. They are not the lawmakers or the court of law to issue such an order.

“It happened before when the former Commissioner of Police tried to ban us from continuing our rally, but the Inspector-General of Police overruled the ban,” she said.

A similar situation had played out in June 2014, when the then Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, countered a decision of the then Commissioner of Police in Abuja, Joseph Mbu.

Mr. Mbu had announced a ban on public rallies in Abuja shortly after the #BBOG began its rally to protest the abduction of the Chibok girls.

The group had reacted to the ban by approaching an Abuja High Court, which decided that Mr. Mbu or the Force had no right to prevent the #BBOG or any group from embarking on a peaceful protest, as such amounts to a breach of the right of citizens to free movement and freedom of expression.

Also speaking with PREMIUM TIMES, another member of the #BBOG group, Buky Sonibare, said the group had documents containing the judgment of the court, which declared such a ban by the police as illegal.

She added that the #BBOG would rely on those documents while embarking on public rallies.

“As you know, this is not the first time such a thing has happened and we have the judgments of a court of law which we would rely on to continue our rally.

“We however have seen that there are plans to deter us in various ways. If the attempts continue, we would think of the best approach within the ambits of law to ensure that our rights to such peaceful protests are not abused,” said Mrs. Sonibare.

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