PHOTO: Channels TV/Sodiq Adelakun.
The police have restricted all forms of protests within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to the Unity Fountain, Central Business District, Abuja.
According to a statement, the Force Public Relations Officer Frank Mba said the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, gave the order on Wednesday.
He explained that the directive was in furtherance of the efforts by the police at ensuring the security of life and property, free flow of traffic, and protection of economic activities.
Mba added that the Force was committed to ensuring more coordinated handling of peaceful protest in the FCT.
He said, “By this directive, intending protesters are requested to steer-clear of all critical national infrastructure, especially the Three Arms Zone and other sensitive security areas.
“They are, however, at liberty to assemble and conduct peaceful protests within the Unity Fountain (the authorised protest zone).”
“The restriction is sequel to series of protests, such as the one on 30th October 2018 in various parts of Abuja, which brought the Capital City to a standstill, crumbling economic activities and inflicting untold hardship on motorists and the general public,” he said.
The police spokesman noted that a similar protest in the same month led to the setting ablaze of a Police Patrol Vehicle at Banex Plaza in Abuja.
“This year, on the 9th of July, another protest at the National Assembly, Abuja, led to an unprovoked attack on police officers on legitimate national assignment, injuring nine of them and causing massive damage to public and private property,” he noted.
Mba stressed that the police were aware of the African Charter on Human Rights, which the Nigerian State has ratified and the Constitutional provisions relating to the fundamental human rights, particularly freedom of expression, right to peaceful assembly and freedom of movement.
He, however, said these rights were not absolute and were constitutionally moderated by the genuine concerns for public safety, public order and for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other people.
“Needless to state that it is within the prerogative of the police to regulate activities of protesters who have the tendency to cause damage to life and property, particularly to innocent and non-protesting citizens, who also have equal right to exercise their freedom, unmolested by the protesting group,” the Force explained.
Mba added, “It is against this backdrop that the IGP seeks the cooperation and understanding of would-be protesters and the general public.
“He reiterates his call for constructive collaboration between the citizens and the police in enthroning a new culture of protests devoid of violence and damage to public and private property.