, ABUJA, Jun 3 – 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 April 14.
Federal Capital Territory (FCT) police spokeswoman 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. READ: Obasanjo holds talks to free Nigeria schoolgirls.
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.