The Nigeria Police Force Headquarters on Tuesday said it had not banned peaceful rallies or assemblies in any part of the country but had only issued advisory notice.
The spokesman for the force, CSP Frank Mba, stated this at a news conference on Tuesday in Abuja.
“The notice was issued to guide the citizens to apply caution in rallies, particularly in the FCT, based on intelligence reports on current security challenges facing the nation.’’
He said the reports indicated that the peaceful protests over the kidnapped Chibok school girls were about to be infiltrated and hijacked by criminal elements linked to the Boko Haram insurgents.
Mba quoted the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Abubakar, as advising organisers of such protests to seek advice and guidance from the police before embarking on rallies “to avoid any unpleasant circumstance.’’
He said the force recognised the constitutional and democratic rights of the citizens to protest in a democratic setting.
Asked whether the ban placed on protest in the FCT by the Commissioner of Police in the territory, Mr Joseph Mbu, had been nullified, Mba said the police was not against peaceful protests.
“The ultimate authority of the police flows from the IGP, the buck ends on his table and the position of the force has been restated several times.
“The Nigeria police is not against peaceful rallies and protests by Nigerians, it is the inalienable right of Nigerians; it is in line with democratic norms and culture.
“It is the constitutional right of Nigerians to protest in a democratic space, we issued out a very strong advisory notice to Nigerians”, he said.
Mba said that based on intelligence information that terror elements could hide under those protests and attack, destroying lives and property, the force advised the organisers to reconsider their position.
“You must acknowledge the fact that CP Mbu mentioned these facts yesterday (Monday).
“All we try to do today is to explain the scenario and put them in proper perspective. That is the situation’’, he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mbu, on Monday, banned all protests over the kidnap of Chibok school girls in the territory, saying that the protests were posing serious security threats.
“As the FCT police boss, I cannot fold my hands and watch this lawlessness’’, he had said. (NAN