Backing away from a statement by Nigerian Police Commissioner Joseph Mbu Monday, June 2, Police Spokesman Frank Mba said on Tuesday that Nigerians are free to protest in Abuja and its Federal Capital Territory (FTC), but were advised against doing so. Citing ongoing security concerns, Mba maintained Mbu’s implication that protests have and could be compromised and “hijacked” by “criminal elements having links with insurgents.” Protests erupted throughout Abuja shortly after Boko Haram militants mass-abducted more than 240 predominantly Christian school girls from a secondary school in northeast Nigeria. Today is their 58th day in captivity.
06/05/2014 Nigeria (Toronto Sun) – Nigerian police said on Tuesday that protesters were free to march in the capital Abuja, after an uproar over comments by the police commissioner in which he appeared to ban demonstrations over more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by rebels.
Joseph Mbu made a statement on Monday in which he appeared to forbid protests on grounds that they could be hijacked by “dangerous elements” who could threaten state security. Protesters said they would challenge the ban in court on Tuesday, and they filed a complaint at noon (1100 GMT).
But a statement from Police Spokesman Frank Mba on Tuesday said the commissioner had only meant to advise against gatherings because of intelligence that there was “infiltration and hijack of otherwise innocuous and peaceful protests by some criminal elements having links with insurgents”.
“The Force has not issued any order banning peaceful assemblies/protests anywhere in Nigeria,” Mba said.
“However, … citizens are strongly advised to reconsider their positions on the issues of rallies and protests in FCT until the existing threats are appropriately neutralised,” he said, referring to the Federal Capital Territory around Abuja.
The girls were snatched from the northeastern village of Chibok, near the Cameroon border, on April 14.