By Monday Ijeh
Abuja – The Inspector-General (I-G) of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, has ordered the restriction of all forms of protests within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), to the Unity Fountain, Central Business District, Abuja.
The Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), DCP Frank Mba, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.
Mba said the order was in furtherance of the efforts of the police to ensure security of lives and property, free flow of traffic as well as protection of economic activities.
He said it was also to ensure a more coordinated handling of peaceful protests in the territory.
According to him, 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 authorised protest zone.
“”The restriction is sequel to series of protests, such as the one of Oct. 30, 2018 in various parts of Abuja, which brought the Capital City to a standstill.
“ It led to 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, traumatising innocent citizens.
“”The recent is the one of July 9, at the National Assembly that led to an unprovoked attack on Police officers on legitimate national assignment, injuring nine of them,” he said.
He said that the force was aware of the African Charter on Human Rights, which the Nigeria had ratified and the constitutional provisions relating to the fundamental human rights, particularly freedom of expression.
Mba said that the rights were, however, not absolute and were 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 lives and property.
““Particularly to innocent and non-protesting citizens, who also have equal right to exercise their freedom, unmolested by the protesting group.
““It is against this backdrop that the I-G seeks the cooperation and understanding of would-be protesters and the general public.
“The I-G 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,” he added.