The Inspector-General of Police M.A. Adamu in ensuring safety, security of life , properties , the free flow of traffic , the protection of commerce , other economic activities, as well as a more coordinated handling of peaceful protest, 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).
According to a statement signed by Police spokesman, ACP Frank Mba ,the restriction was sequel to series of protests, such as the one on 30thOctober, 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, traumatized innocent citizens.
This year, on the 9th of July, another protest at the National Assembly, Abuja,also led to an unprovoked attack on Police officers on legitimate national assignment, injured nine (9) of them and resulted to massive damage of public and private property.
The Force claimed to be aware 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.
Police said it was important however to note that these rights were 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 life 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 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.” Police stated.