The Commissioner of Police in Abuja, Joseph Mbu, yesterday announced a ban on all protests, in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), to demand freedom for the over 250 schoolgirls kidnapped in Chibok Borno State, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
Mr. Mbu’s announcement comes days after persons, suspected to be pro-government thugs, attacked protesters, largely women, who have been holding daily peaceful protests in Abuja.
The protest, though popular among several Nigerians, has been a source of worry for the federal government, with the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, announcing last Wednesday that the protesters were sponsored by the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).
This is coming on the heels of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign team, otherwise known as Abuja Family, who have insisted in continuing its sit-out sessions, at the Abuja Unity Fountain, today, barely a week after an attempt by suspected “thugs” and “hooligans” to disrupt their rally in the area.
The campaigners, calling for the rescue of the abducted girls, had following last week’s attack on them, relocated to the Maitama Amusement Park, for their meetings, but were constantly denied access into the park, in the nation’s capital.
However, during a village square meeting outside the Amusement Park, the campaigners vowed to return to the place, being the usual venue for their meeting, in defiance to all threats of intimidation and harassment by members of a suspected government-sponsored group against their gathering there, seeking the rescue of the girls.
It would be recalled that the emergency of a new group of protesters tagged “Release Our Girls” campaigners at the Unity Fountain, allegedly working for the government, had led to several incidences in the area, culminating into the smashing of plastic chairs and snatching of phones belonging to the members of the old group, the Abuja Family.
Addressing the group, the coordinator of the #BringBackOurGirls movement, Hadiza Usman, said their decision to return to the Fountain, was a clear demonstration that they cannot in any way be intimidated by anyone, until the girls are rescued by the government.
She said the movement has petitioned the police authorities over the recent developments in the area, which it also copied the Nigeria Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Usman, added they have followed up the said petition, by informing their legal counsel, Femi Falana (SAN, for necessary legal action.
According to her, some security measures have been putted in place by the group, in order to forestall the repeat of what happened last week’s Wednesday.
It could be recalled that trouble ensued last week, when the rival new group of Chibok schoolgirls’ release, with the slogan: “ #ReleaseOurGirlsNow”, in an attempt to disrupt Abuja Family’s meeting at the Unity Fountain.
President Goodluck Jonathan had, in a speech read to the protesters when they tried to march to the Presidential Villa, asked the protesters to direct the anger at the Boko Haram and not at his government.
The Nigerian government has been criticised locally and international for its handling of the kidnapped girls, who were abducted from their school on April 14.