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Court declares ban on BringBackOurGirls protests illegal

I ‘ll appeal, says Mbu

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA—An Abuja High Court sitting at Maitama, yesterday, held that the erstwhile Commissioner of Police for the Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Joseph Mbu, acted illegally when he banned the #BringBackOurGirls group from conducting any form of protest within the FCT.

Delivering judgment in a suit filed by former Minister of Education, Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, wife of former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, and 15 others, Justice Sunday Aladetoyinbo said the Police had no power to ban any Nigerian from embarking on a peaceful protest in any part of the country.

Chibiok Girls : Mrs. Maryam Uwais addressing newsmen and Abuja Family members of #Bringbackourgirls shortly after filing a suit against FCT Commissioner of Police who banned rallies in Abuja. Photo: Gbemiga Olamikan.
Chibiok Girls : Mrs. Maryam Uwais addressing newsmen and Abuja Family members of #Bringbackourgirls shortly after filing a suit against FCT Commissioner of Police who banned rallies in Abuja. Photo: Gbemiga Olamikan.

The court held that Mbu, who is now an Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, in charge of Zone 7, acted beyond his powers when he prohibited the group from converging to persuade the government to take concrete steps towards securing the release of the over 200 girls abducted from their school at Chibok in Borno State.

Justice Aladetoyinbo said at the time Mbu made the prohibition order, there was no state of emergency or any order from the Presidency.

“The right to freedom of assembly is the bone of any democratic governance,” the court added and commended the Inspector General of Police for his prompt response and immediate reversal of the “illegal police action” against the plaintiffs.

Besides, the court held that it was wrong for the police to insist that the plaintiffs must first obtain a permit before gathering, though it cautioned the #BringBackOurGirls group on the need to be security conscious, while staging a peaceful gathering.

Justice Aladetoyinbo, however, refused to award a cost of N200 million against the police as he was prayed to do by the plaintiffs.

Meanwhile, Mbu, yesterday, said he would go to the Court of Appeal to challenge the judgment.

Reacting through his lawyer Mr. Simon Lough, Mbu insisted that the high court verdict established “some grey areas” he said ought to be settled by a higher court.

Lough told newsmen that there were previously two conflicting high court judgments on the powers of the Police to ban protest rallies.

 


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