The Nigerian Police on Sunday denied outlawing public protest , stating that “public protest or procession anywhere in Nigeria” is lawful insofar they are peaceful.
But the Police said it will not condone any protest or procession on public highways and roads inhibiting or disallowing public freedom and right of way.
“Peaceful Public protest/procession is an integral part of democratic norms,with” said police spokesman Don Awunah, “in as much as it conforms with the rule of law and public order.”
“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.”
The clarification became imperative after men of the Nigerian Police tried to stop members of the Bring Back Our Girls movement from marching on Presidential Villa in Abuja on Wednesday.
The Oby Ezekwesili-led group had met at the Unity Fountain to proceed with its planned march but were stopped by police officers.
A police officer, Abiodun Alamatu, informed Ezekwesili that he had orders to stop the protesters from embarking on a march. He said the group could not hold the protest until they presented an official permission approving the action.
After the group had presented acknowledged copies of letters submitted to the police on the march, they were allowed to proceed. They were later stopped by a police deputy commissioner, M. D. Garba, who did not disclose the reasons for the blockade.
The BBOG group, however, marched through the barricade to the entrance of the presidential villa where they met a pro-Buhari group.
But the Force spokesman said in order to ensure that public protest or procession is not hijacked by hoodlums to unleash mayhem and disturbance of public peace, “persons or group of persons undertaking public protest or procession should endeavour to notify the police to enable the police protect and process the public procession through designated routes and destinations.”