By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA— The Bring Back Our Girls, BBOG, Movement has warned the Federal Government to desist from clamping down on voices of dissent, saying such action could force dissidents underground, thereby fuelling sectarian violence.
At a press conference, yesterday, in Abuja, the group said: “On Friday, April 13, just a day to the 4th year commemoration, operatives of the Nigeria Police carted away our chairs from our usual meeting grounds in Abuja, Unity Fountain, for no just cause.
‘’The park was also sealed. Our movement and others have been purportedly banned by the police from meeting.
“This stifling of citizens’ voices and closing of civic spaces is blatant lawlessness and an abuse. Rights to freedoms of association, peaceful assembly, thought and conscience are guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Nigeria police itself being a creation of the law cannot act above the law that created it.
“Further to this, in October 2014 Justice Sunday Aladetoyinbo of High Court of the FCT, ruled that the police lack the powers to prevent protest by our movement. The court specifically ruled that, ‘The right to freedom of assembly is the bone of democratic governance.’
“The Nigeria police cannot, therefore, re-enact through the backdoor Decrees 2 and 4 of the dark military era in stifling democratic voices.
The ‘banning’ of other civic groups meeting peacefully at Unity Fountain creates room for a repeat of errors of the past. Nigeria cannot afford groups going underground. Nigeria cannot afford yet another sectarian crisis”, they said in the prepared speech jointly signed by its leaders, Florence Ozor, Aisha Yesufu and Oby Ezekwesili.
Speaking further, the BBOG said: “Having given the federal government 72 hours to rethink its totalitarian inclinations and descent to militarism by stifling civic voices, we have decided to return to our daily sit-outs beginning from this day.
Also, our movement shall be bringing forth a number of law suits to compel the federal to produce evidence to the claim that our #ChibokGirls are all alive; to compel the federal government to answer the 14 question we had raised following the abduction of our #DapchiGirls; and to provide reasons for living behind Leah Sharibu, and not accounting for the other five; the Nigeria police; the Inspector-General of Police, FCT Commissioner of Police as officers and in their personal capacities for willfully breaking the law with impunity. There have to be consequences for bad behaviour”, they declared.