Leadership (Abuja)

4 June 2014

Nigeria: Ban On Chibok Girls Protest - IGP Overrules CP Mbu

Photo: Premium Times
#BringBackOurGirls protesters in Abuja.

The police have made a detour on the Monday ban placed on Abuja residents protesting the continued hostage of over 200 Chibok schoolgirls by the Boko Haram terrorists.

The force public relations officer, CSP Frank Mba, made this known yesterday during a media briefing where he said the police only issued advisory notice enjoining citizens to apply caution in the said rallies.

The FCT commissioner of police, Mr Joseph Mbu, during a briefing on Monday said the police had placed a ban on any form of rallies over the abducted Chibok schoolgirls, adding that the protesters were constituting a nuisance in the nation's capital.

"The Police High Command wishes to inform the general public that the Force has not issued any order banning peaceful assemblies/protests anywhere in Nigeria," Mba said. "However against the backdrop of current security challenges in the country, coupled with a recent intelligence report of a likely infiltration and hijack of otherwise innocuous and peaceful protests by some criminal elements having links with insurgents, the police only issued advisory notice, enjoining citizens to apply caution in the said rallies, particularly in the Federal Capital Territory and its environs."

Reminding citizens of the earlier position of the Force on peaceful rallies, which he said the police high command regards as the constitutional and democratic rights of Nigerians, Mba said the inspector-general of police, Mohammed Abubakar, stressed the need for the organizers of such rallies to ensure that they sought proper advice and guidance from the police before engaging in any such exercise so as to avoid any unpleasant circumstances.

"The IGP calls on the general public to see the present position of the Force as a necessary sacrifice for the peace our nation needs, as security is a collective responsibility.

"Consequently, citizens are strongly advised to reconsider their positions on the issues of rallies and protests in the FCT until the existing threats are appropriately neutralized and removed from our midst by relevant security agencies," he said.

Protesters sue Mbu

One of the arrowheads of Bring Back Our Girls protesters, Hadiza Bala Usman, has dragged the commissioner of police in the Federal Capital Territory command, Mr Joseph Mbu, before an Abuja high court over the ban on the "Bring Back Our Girls" protest and demanded N200 million damages.

The plaintiff, through her counsel Mr Femi Falana (SAN), filed the suit seeking the enforcement of her fundamental human right to freedom of conscience, expression and assembly as well as her right to associate, guaranteed by sections 38, 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution.

In the suit, the plaintiff is also praying the court for a declaration that the decision to ban protest and rallies related to the Chibok girls is illegal, unconstitutional, null and void as it violates the fundamental rights entrenched in our constitution.

The plaintiff also wants a declaration that the defendant, the commissioner of police, is not competent to ban the protest and therefore asks for an order of perpetual injunction restraining him, agents and privies from further preventing the group from taking part in any protest and rally in exercise of freedom of conscience and assembly.

The plaintiff is also praying the court for an order, directing the defendant to pay the sum of N200 million as damages for the said act of violation.

No date has been fixed for the hearing.

Speaking with journalists at the entrance of the court, Usman said, "We are demanding from the court to restrain the Nigeria Police from effecting this illegal ban. We have drawn the attention of the court to the fact that sections 38, 39 and 40 are being violated by this ban on our activities. We are hoping to get an injunction against the NPF from implementing this illegal act. The protest will continue because we know our right; we shall not be deterred or intimidated by anyone. We are mindful of the fact that this is contained within our constitution. We shall continue our protest but, meanwhile, we have filed a suit at the FCT high court.

"Because we appreciate that what is contained within our constitution clearly defines that, there is a court of appeal ruling between which the NPF have not appealed; so, there is indeed a ruling of a competent court where we are allowed to carry on with our protest. We stand beyond ethnic and religious lines and demand the rescue of our girls."

The group, after leaving the court premises marched to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) where it was received by Mrs Oti Ovrawah, who stated that the work of the commission is to receive complaints on all human rights violations no matter how wide.

According to her, "We heard about the ban and there is no doubt that there is right to peaceful protest as guaranteed by the constitution. We have heard your protest and the commission is part of this because we want our girls to come back alive. We are going to take this up definitely because that right is entrenched in our constitution and the constitution is the grund norm in Nigeria. So, just go about your protest peacefully.

Mbu's action is contemptuous, illegal - Falana

Also addressing journalists, lawyer to the group Mr Femi Falana said that the protest will continue in different forms until the girls are brought back alive.

He said, "For the government, I can assure you that what happened yesterday will be deeply regretted because your protest were meant essentially to wage a psychological war on those who abducted these girls.

"Those who stopped the rally are agents of terrorism. What happened is the height of impunity in our country. I have made it clear to the Nigerian police because they allowed Mbu to get away with a lot of illegalities in Rivers State. He has now come to Abuja believing he will continue. We are not going to let them get away with it."

He stated that he was going to lodge a complaint to the attorney-general of the federation (AGF) and minister of justice to have Mbu prosecuted for deliberately disobeying the order of the Court of Appeal.

"On December 12, 2007, we won the battle for all Nigerians to protest peacefully where the Court of Appeal restrained the police from preventing any group of Nigerians from protesting peacefully. What Mbu did was a contempt of court. In democracy, there is the rule of law which means that no matter how high you are, you are not above the law.

"Under the Nigeria constitution, some people, even government officials, want to hijack the legal system in the country. They have reduced our country to a banana republic. We are going to make example of Mbu in this country. We are going to plan a new strategy to help us overcome the challenges."

Terrorism: Expert Calls For Secret Trial Of Insurgents

The federal government has been called upon to conduct a secret trial of suspected Boko Haram insurgents and their sponsors as a way of ending insurgency in the country.

Lead discussant at the ongoing Nigeria Security Exhibition and Conference, NISEC, Homeland Security-Africa 2014, Prof. Declan Ihekwoaba Onwudiwe, made the call yesterday in his presentation on "A Review of Counter-terrorism Laws - African Perspective" where he said that the federal government must deploy every avenue to end insurgency.

Onwudiwe, who also urged the federal government to explore the dialogue option, suggested that decentralization of the police and community policing would go a long way in bridging the gap between the populace and the security agencies.

"Keep the federal police but develop local police, who in turn, will be closer to the people and they will help in information gathering since they are at the grass roots. That is what is called domestic security.

Australia offers special forces to help rescue schoolgirls

Australian special forces troops are on standby to assist with the rescue of more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria, the Federal Government has confirmed, ABC News reports

The schoolgirls were kidnapped by the Boko Haram sect on April 14, sparking international outrage and prompting the campaign "BringBackOurGirls".

Britain and the US have offered help to the Nigerian government.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has told Sky News that Australia has offered to lend its support but Nigeria is yet to respond.

"Australian troops, the SAS are always on standby for contingencies," she said.

Australia confirms offer to send SAS to Nigeria (PM)

"We have made an offer to the Nigerian government to provide whatever support they need to release the girls. We've made a specific offer to our UK and US allies ... that we are ready to assist in whatever way we can.

"We have not had a response from the Nigerian government. They've thanked us for our willingness to be involved in trying to rescue the girls but we haven't had any specific acceptance of the offers that we've made."

Greens leader Christine Milne is calling on the Government to provide more details before Australia gets involved.

OIC Visits Borno, Offers To Collaborate In Fight Against Boko Haram

The Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) was yesterday in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, to commiserate with the government on the ongoing Boko Haram conflict even as the body said war on an insurgency like Boko Haram can only be won using multi-dimensional strategies.

Speaking while paying a courtesy call on Borno State governor Kashim Shettima, the OIC secretary-general, Ita Bin Amin Magani, said the it would provide human and material support for Borno State and Nigeria at large in order to end the Boko Haram insurgency.

"OIC is ready and available to prove this solidarity beyond words and emotions. We have officially described the Boko Haram as a terrorist group and we believe that conflict of this nature needs to have a wide range of solutions, including solutions. We must find out what keeps them going and what attract youths to them," he said.

Elated Governor Shettima thanked the OIC for clearly condemning the activities of the Boko Haram sect, even as he described the delegation's visit as "a great moment in the annals of Borno which has a history of over 1,000 years of Islamic civilization".

He said: "OIC is the collective voice of the Muslim world; we share in the positive ideals of the organization which emphasizes upholding Islamic social and economic values, cohesion and solidarity among member states; increasing cooperation in social, economic, cultural and scientific affairs; international peace and security, and most critically the advancement of education particularly in the area of science and technology.

"It is clear that these great ideals, aims and objectives of the OIC are in direct contrast with the weird ideologies of the extremist terror group, Boko Haram, that preaches violence and destruction by masquerading under the guise of Islam."

Insurgency depletes students' population - Ex-UNIMAID VC

The outgoing vice-chancellor of the University of Maiduguri, Professor Mala Dauda, has said that one of his administration's pitfalls was the Boko Haram insurgency which had badly affected the annual student enrolment in the last three years.

The former VC made this known while handing over the baton of leadership to his successor, Professor Ibrahim Abubakar Njodi, yesterday at the Senate Chamber of the university.

Dauda said the university had not been able to fill up its annual 7,724 intakes in the last three years even as the case continued to get worse every succeeding year.

LEADERSHIP learnt that the student enrolment in the last two years was barely half of what the institution used to record in the years before the Boko Haram insurgency.

"Though there was no attack on the campus, the insecurity has affected the university indirectly; some of our staff even left the university because of the insurgency," he added.

We're Traumatised, Say Parents Of Chibok Girls

Parents of the abducted girls of Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, have lamented the continued detention of their daughters who were kidnapped by the Boko Haram sect, saying they were still traumatised.

The parents who spoke at a "Television Continental" (TVC) programme yesterday said they were yet to recover from the shock of the abduction of their children and the inability of the government and security agents to find the girls.

"We are shocked to hear that the missing girls' saga was politically motivated," the parents said.

Some of the parents of the girls who were guests of the show, courtesy of Omoluabi Network, a non-governmental organization, said they had resorted to trusting God for the release of their daughters and relatives.

Ruth Bitrus, mother of Hauwa and Godiya, two of the missing girls, said that when she heard that her daughters were missing and after watching the video, she said, "God, if it is your will that I will never see my daughters again, prepare a better place for them, hoping that my girls will return to me the same way the other girls escaped."

Another mother, Monica, was peeved by insinuations that the abduction of the girls was stage-managed for political purposes. The woman, whose daughter Saraya, is still in the Boko Haram camp, noted that the feeling she gets from those insinuations is that "there is nobody that can stand for us; otherwise no one would have contemplated denying that the girls are missing.

"When we heard about this whole thing, we just started fainting," she said through an interpreter.

They also said the children and their parents are very distressed, hence they require some treatment for trauma.

Cameroon deploys 3,000 troops to Nigerian border

Cameroon authorities have deployed troops numbering 3,000 to the far northern region of the country bordering Nigeria to fighting against Boko Haram insurgents, the Hausa service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has reported.

The Cameroon authorities said it has ordered stop-and-search on any motorist to ensure safety in the region.

Cameroon has, in the recent time, suffered Boko Haram attacks in the its northern region bordering north-eastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram base.

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InFocus

Police U-Turn on #BringBackOurGirls Protests

#BringBackOurGirls protesters in Abuja.

Less than 24 hours after the Abuja Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mbu, announced a ban on all rallies relating to the kidnapped Chibok girls, the Nigeria police has reversed the ... Read more »