Protests: Nigeria activists challenge 'illegal' ban

2014-06-03 07:39
A woman attends a mass-demonstration calling on the government to increase efforts to rescue hundreds of missing kidnapped school girls of a government secondary school Chibok, in Lagos, Nigeria. (Sunday Alamba, AP)

A woman attends a mass-demonstration calling on the government to increase efforts to rescue hundreds of missing kidnapped school girls of a government secondary school Chibok, in Lagos, Nigeria. (Sunday Alamba, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Abuja - Nigerian police have banned protests in the capital Abuja by supporters of the more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram militants as the activists vowed to challenge the "illegal" move.

Noisy street demonstrations in Abuja have become a regular feature of the campaign to put pressure on the government and keep the issue in the public eye seven weeks after the girls were abducted from a school in northern Nigeria on 14 April.

Federal Capital Territory (FCT) police spokesperson Altine Daniel confirmed the ban in a text message to AFP, saying the decision was taken "because of security reasons".

Protest organisers questioned the legitimacy of the move and eyed a possible political motive, but police chief Joseph Mbu said the ban was imposed because of the threat of infiltration from "dangerous elements".

"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@ ALL," said protest leader Oby Ezekwesili on Twitter.

"The decision to ban the protest is insane. We are going to court as soon as possible to challenge the ban," said the group's lawyer, Femi Falana, adding that permits were not required for peaceful protests.

Bring Back Our Girls spokesman Rotimi Olawale said that the protesters were "unperturbed" and would meet again in the capital on Tuesday.

"We have been peaceful in our protest. We don't obstruct traffic or constitute ourselves to a public menace," he added.

Worldwide support

The demonstrations grew out of a social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls, which attracted worldwide support from ordinary people to US First Lady Michelle Obama and Pope Francis.

Copycat demonstrations have also been held around the globe.

Families and supporters of the missing girls were critical of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's response to the abduction, accusing him of being slow to react and indifferent to their plight.

The head of the world's top Islamic body Iyad Ameen Madani branded the violence carried out by Boko Haram "criminal acts that have nothing to do with Islam, Islamic teachings, the religion and history of Islam, the culture and civilisation of Islam".

Speaking to reporters after talks with Jonathan he added, "we should identify them for what they are, a terrorist group".

"We offered anything that the OIC could do in terms of expressing its support and willingness to be actively involved in facing up to this terrorist group," the secretary general of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation added.

In the weeks after the 14 April abduction, Nigeria has been forced to accept foreign help, including from the United States, to try to find the girls.

"Serious security threat"

The protests meanwhile have grown to involve activists and campaign groups, who have sought meetings with senior figures in Jonathan's administration, including the president himself.

But on Wednesday last week, the high-profile marches descended into violence after scores of young men attacked women protesters, throwing chairs, bottles and stones.

Some of the men were carrying posters in support of Jonathan, protest leaders said, although there was no immediate evidence connecting the gang to the head of state or his ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Mbu said in a statement that the emergence of a second group of protesters - Release Our Girls - was "posing a serious security threat" to nearby residents.

"As the FCT Police boss I cannot fold my hands and watch this lawlessness," he said.

"Information reaching us is that too soon dangerous elements will join the groups under the guise of protest and detonate explosive[s] aimed at embarrassing the government.

"Accordingly protests on the Chibok girls is hereby banned with immediate effect."

Political motive?

Information Minister Labaran Maku claimed after last Wednesday's violence that the majority of the protesters were members of the main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), which is looking to unseat the PDP in next year's general election.

Banners of the smaller opposition Labour Party have been seen on previous marches, according to AFP reporters.

Ezekwesili, however, is a former education minister under ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo -- Jonathan's mentor - and a regular presence at the demonstrations.

The former World Bank executive claimed that the FCT police chief did nothing to prevent last week's violence and said the ban indicated that Nigeria's government wants to deflect attention from itself.

"Banning protests in Abuja further underlines our govts not wanting to take responsibility," she tweeted.

Mbu was recently transferred from Rivers state in the southern Niger Delta region to the capital, amid accusations that he was doing the presidency's bidding - charges he has denied.

The Rivers state governor Rotimi Amaechi, who defected from the PDP to the APC last year, accused the police chief of targeting opposition rallies after police fired live bullets and tear gas at APC members.

Mbu said at the time that teargas was used only because organisers did not have an official permit to demonstrate.
Read more on:    boko haram  |  goodluck jonathan  |  nigeria  |  nigeria kidnappings  |  abductions  |  west africa
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic & Train Alerts
Traffic
Cape Town 19:21 PM
Road name: N2 Outbound

ACCIDENT near the Airport runway

Stikland 18:48 PM
Road name: Strand Road Eastbound

STATIONARY TRUCK before La Belle Road

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It is the end of the month and there may be a strong focus on organising finances. You may have found a need to reconstruct or...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.