The Inspector-General of Police,(IGP) Ibrahim Idris, has stated categorically that at no time did Nigeria Police Force place a ban on peaceful public protest and procession anywhere in Nigeria most particularly Federal Capital Territory(FCT).
The denial is coming just as the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) appealed to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, Mr. Maina Kiai to force the Federal Government to stop harassing and intimidating #BringBackOurGirls members.
SERAP had asked the world body to look at the impermissible restrictions on the rights of members to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
SERAP in the urgent appeal dated September 9, 2016 and signed by the organisation’s Senior Staff Counsel, Timothy Adewale, said that, “No Nigerian law makes it a crime to demonstrate in any part of the country. Harassing the BBOG group and stopping its members from proceeding peacefully to the seat of government is overkill.”
The Police in statement said that peaceful public protest/procession is an integral part of democratic norms provided it conforms to the rule of law and public order.
The statement signed by the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Don Awunah.
The statement added that the Nigeria Police Force recognises the constitutional rights of every law abiding citizen to express his or her view through public protest/procession and other legitimate means.
It stated that to ensure that public protest and procession are not hijacked by hoodlums and miscreants to unleash mayhem and disturbance of public peace, persons or group of persons undertaking public protest/procession should endeavour to notify the police to enable the police protect and process the public procession through designated routes and destinations.
However, Awunah pointed out that the Police would not condone any protest/procession on the public highways and roads inhibiting or disallowing public freedom and right of way.
“The Inspector General of Police is committed to the principles of democratic policing and adherence to international best practices in public order management. To this end, State Commissioners of Police and Police Commanders are directed to emplace strategies to protect and facilitate lawful public protest/processions as well as protect other members of the public who are not engaged in any form of public protest/procession, ”the statement reads in part.