The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has banned “all street demonstrations, protests and processions” within the territory.
Anthony Ogunleye, the Chief Press Secretary to the FCT Minister, Mohammed Bello, who announced the decision on Thursday morning through a press statement, attributed the decision to the FCT Security Committee.
Although he said the security committee at its meeting on Tuesday noted the “unruly conduct” of the protesters, he said the ban is over their failure to comply with the COVID-19 restrictions and not related to their demand for police reform.
The statement accused the protesters of violating the Covid-19 protocols, saying “due to the dangers posed by Covid-19, all street demonstrations, protests and processions will not be allowed anywhere within the FCT.”
Abuja residents have joined the global demonstrations against brutality and criminality by the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police, which has morphed into a campaign for police reform after the police on Sunday bowed to the pressure and announced the dissolution of the notorious unit.
This ban by the FCTA comes just days after Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State announced a similar ban on EndSARS protesters but which was ignored, forcing the governor to revoke the ban and instead address the protesters.
The ban in Abuja also comes as protests have been growing in size in the city and across the nation.
Reactions to Abuja ban
Social media is already abuzz with many users questioning the timing of the FCT government’s ruling.
However, some users have praised the FCTA on the decision, arguing that the “protesters are becoming a nuisance”.
An FCT resident, Olabode Albert, who spoke with this reporter, said “the government heard us [the people] and is taking the necessary steps [to reform the police]. We must now allow them to do their work.”
Hashing out the details
In a telephone interview with this reporter, Mr Ogunleye said the ban came into effect immediately.
He said reiterated that it has nothing to do with the police reform protests, but because “we care about the lives of the people.” Mr Ogunleye insisted that the ban is to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Despite the ban, PREMIUM TIMES observed that a peaceful protest was still going on in Abuja, with the police calmly watching from the sidelines.
The protesters are insisting that the government should implement their demands to reform the police, describing the newly created Special Weapons and Tactical (SWAT) as a mere replacement of SARS.