More than 60 Nigerian police officers on Sunday circled the Unity Fountain, Maitama, Abuja, venue of the #bringbackourgirls sit-out convened by Mrs. Obiageli Ezekwesili, a former education minister.
The police officers, who lined up by their trucks and tanks, stopped harmless people who had come to add their voices to the #bringbackourgirls campaign from entering the venue.
Earlier, when convener of the meeting, Ezekwesili, was told she could not hold an assembly there, she sat on the ground in protest, maintaining that Section 40 of the 1999 constitution guarantees her right to peaceful assembly.
Dramatic as it was, the policemen gave in, allowing her and a few people to enter the venue. However, the harassment did not stop there, as people trying to gain entry afterwards were barred.
Honourable Dino Melaye, a former member of the Federal House of Representatives, who was at the gathering, took up the gauntlet, pulling in some of those who had been barred from entering the concourse.
Informing the gathering of its right to peaceful assembly and protest, Melaye reminded the policemen of a subsisting judgment of the Supreme Court barring the Police from harassing peaceful protesters or barring peaceful assemblies.
He added that the judgment was delivered by the Supreme Court in a case between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Police.
While attempting to take snapshots of a scene where dozens of policemen encircled Melaye with the intention of arresting him, Frederick Nwabufo, TheCable’s Abuja correspondent, was manhandled, and would have been arrested were it not for the intervention of a crowd of protesters.
Much later, the drama dovetailed into a wrestle between the former lawmaker and some policemen. Although the policemen were well-armed, they did not apply naked force in their dealings with the protesters .
The subject of the assembly changed into the use of security agents to intimidate peaceful citizens who had gathered for a common cause, and the protesters, in defiance, all sporadically chanted: “We will not be intimidated.”
This is the 11th day of the protest, and a peaceful rally has been slated for Tuesday. The women are determined to continue the protest until the hundreds of abducted Chibok girls are rescued.