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Police denies banning public protests but…

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The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Ibrahim Idris, has said the Nigerian Police has not banned public protests and processions any where in the country.

The IGP, in a statement signed by the Force Public Relation Officer, Don Awunah, however said it would not allow protests or procession on public hghways and roads that would disrupt public freedom and right of way.

It would be recalled that the severe criticism from Prof. Wole Soyinka and a former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili for branding the protests embarked upon by the Bring Back Our Girls, BBOG, advocacy group as a threat to public peace.

The IGP’s statement came after policemen consistently stopped the group from protesting to the Aso Rock Presidential Villa.

The statement reads in part: “Categorically, at no time did Nigeria Police Force place a ban on peaceful public protest/procession anywhere in Nigeria, particularly the Federal Capital Territory.

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“Peaceful public protest/procession is an integral part of democratic norms 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.

“In order to ensure that public protest/procession is not hijacked by hoodlums and miscreants to unleash mayhem and disturbance of public peace, persons or group of persons undertaking public protest/procession should endeavour to notify the police to enable the police protect and process the public procession through designated routes and destinations.

“However, the police will not condone any protest/procession on the public highways and roads inhibiting or disallowing public freedom and right of way.

“The Inspector General of Police is committed to the principles of democratic policing and adherence to international best practices in public order management.

“To this end, State Commissioners of Police and Police Commanders are directed to emplace strategies to protect and facilitate lawful public protest/processions as well as protect other members of the public who are not engaged in any form of public protest/procession.”

By Timothy Enietan-Matthews…

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