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Breaking: Police restrict protest in Abuja

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 the Nigerian Police Force has restricted protest in Abuja.

police shitte protest
People watch a police vehicle as it goes up in flames following clashes with supporters of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) protesting against the imprisonment of their leader Ibrahim Zakzaky, in Abuja, on October 30, 2018. – Nigerian police fired shots and tear gas at thousands of supporters of an imprisoned Shiite cleric in Abuja on October 30, 2018, just a day after three people were killed in similar clashes that sparked warnings to the government that a heavy-handed crackdown could radicalise the group.

According to a statement on Wednesday by DCP Frank Mba Force Public Relations Officer Force Headquarters he said the Inspector-General of Police M.A. Adamu, restricted all forms of protests within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), to the Unity Fountain, Central Business District, Abuja.

And that 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 authorized protest zone).

The statement read thus

In furtherance of the efforts by the Police at ensuring safety and security of life and property, the free flow of traffic and the protection of commerce and other economic activities, as well as a more coordinated handling of peaceful protest, the Inspector-General of Police M.A. Adamu,NPM,mni has restricted all forms of protests within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), to the Unity Fountain, Central Business District, Abuja. 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 authorized 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. A similar protest during the same month led to the setting ablaze of a Police Patrol Vehicle at Banex Plaza, Abuja, traumatizing innocent citizens. 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 (9) of them and causing massive damage to public and private property.

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The Force is not unaware 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. It is important however to note that these rights are not absolute and are constitutionally moderated by the genuine concerns for public safety, public order and for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons. 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.

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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.

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