A former Minister of Education and co-convener of the #BringBackOurGirls (#BBOG) campaign, Oby Ezekwesili, said yesterday that nobody could threaten the group or its members since they were bonafide citizens of the country.
She was reacting to the warning issued by the newly-confirmed Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim Idris that the police would no longer fold its arms and watch members of the group, whose activities he claimed, are “becoming worrisome and a threat to public peace and order” in the Federal Capital Territory.
The BBOG has been holding a daily sit-out at the Unity Fountain, Central Business District in the FCT for over two years, demanding the safe return of about 219 Chibok schoolgirls, who were abducted by Boko Haram insurgents.
It, however, upped the ante last week when it vowed to lead a march to the Presidential Villa every 72 hours until the federal government moves swiftly to bring back the girls.
Following the group’s clash with police officers on Tuesday after they were prevented from proceeding with their march to the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Mr. Idris on Wednesday, while receiving a delegation of the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS), led by its President, Gloria Shoda, said “enough is enough”.
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The IGP was quoted as saying: “The essence of procession is to bring the attention of the society or government to your plight and I think the demonstration [by BBOG] has been going on for too long. We believe and advice that it is time for them to maintain some level of control so that people of Abuja can live in peace and tranquility”.
In her response, Ezekwesili said that the rights of the BBOG are guaranteed by the constitution and advised IGP Idris to educate himself properly about democracy and citizens’ right to peaceful assembly.
She also said the previous administration used similar tactics to try to violate their rights but their rights was upheld by the constitution and court.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja, at the usual sit-out of the group, Ezekwesili said:
“Our response is he should ask for the file that recorded our advocacy between 2014 and 2015 when the previous administration used all kinds of tactics similar to this one to try to violate our constitutional liberty, not only did the constitution uphold that right, the court also upheld our rights, he should just read this files, he should be able to find what he needs in order to educate himself properly about democracy and citizens right to peaceful assembly.
“We are a peaceful movement as everyone knows, so we are not changing anything, no retreat, no surrender; are our girls back? If the government says that we are unreasonable in demanding for our Chibok girls in the way that we have been demanding for them since 2014, they need to show the evidence that counters our stance.
“For us as a movement, we plead for the rescue video of August 14th, which is an incredible opportunity for our government, which really conveyed a message to the world”.
It was observed that unity fountain, which was earlier in the day occupied by policemen, was devoid of their presence by the time of the sit-out.