The Commissioner of Police in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr. Joseph Mbu, yesterday banned the #BringBackOurGirls rallies in Abuja which was in turn overruled by the Inspector General of Police (IG). Mr. Mohammed Abubakar stating that the Police High Command did not issue any order banning peaceful assemblies/protests anywhere in Nigeria.
The Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), Mr. Frank Mba, in an Address to reporters in Abuja on behalf of the IG, said that the public should disregard the pronouncement made by Mbu banning rallies in Abuja, further noting that the police only issued an advisory notice to citizens to apply caution in the said rallies, particularly in the FCT and its environs.
However, before the force could act upon their overturn, 17 of the organisers of the #BringBackOurGirls rallies, led by former Minister of Education, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, and the wife of a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to declare that Mbu lacked the power to ban their protests in the FCT, claiming, in an application for the enforcement of their fundamental human rights filed on their behalf by Deji Morakinyo of Falana and Falana Chambers, that the order of the FCT Commissioner of Police violated their rights to freedom of conscience, expression, assembly and association guaranteed by Sections 38, 39 and 40 of the Constitution and Articles 8,10,11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.
They asked the court to declare that the decision to ban the protests and rallies in the FCT with effect from Monday, June 1, 2014 as illegal, unconstitutional, null and void as it violated their fundamental rights to freedom of conscience, expression, assembly and association guaranteed by Sections 38, 39 and 40 of the Constitution and Articles 8, 10, 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.
According to Thisday, they also sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining the FCT police commissioner from further preventing them or aggrieved Nigerians from taking part in protests and rallies in exercise of their freedom of conscience, expression, assembly and association as guaranteed by Sections 38, 39 and 40 of the Constitution and Articles 8, 10, 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.
In addition, they asked the court to award in their favour the sum of N200 million as damages for violating their fundamental human rights.
The reaction of the ban on cyberspace wasn’t left out as well as angry cyberactivists used the hashtag “Day50″to signify the number of days the abducted girls have been held, and which trended for hours on Twitter.
However, there were a few who felt the former minister had personalised the issue of the Chibok girls and did not hesitate to point it out. One of such who tweeted as @vickieboy said: “@obyezeks, #ChibokGirls #BringBackOurGirls go and get them and stop counting.”