Skip to main content

Nigeria backtracks on ban on protests for kidnapped girls in capital

By Dana Ford, CNN
June 4, 2014 -- Updated 1007 GMT (1807 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The ban was on protests in support of more than 200 kidnapped girls
  • Police: Citizens should "apply caution" at such rallies
  • The schoolgirls were kidnapped from northern Nigeria in April

(CNN) -- Police in Nigeria's capital Tuesday made a U-turn, saying a ban on protests in support of the more than 200 girls kidnapped in April does not exist.

The ban was issued one day earlier by Commissioner Joseph Mbu.

"The Police High Command wishes to inform the general public that the Force has not issued any order banning peaceful assemblies/protests anywhere in Nigeria," his office said in a statement.

"It notes however that against the backdrop of current security challenges in the country, coupled with a recent intelligence report of a likely infiltration and hijack of otherwise innocuous and peaceful protests by some criminal elements having links with insurgents, the Police only issued advisory notice, enjoining citizens to apply caution in the said rallies, particularly in the Federal Capital Territory and its environs," the statement read.

Official: Nigerian kidnapped girls located
Empty Nigerian Schools
Nigerian vigilantes do what army can't
Women in Abuja, Nigeria, hold a candlelight vigil on Wednesday, May 14, one month after nearly 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram. The abductions have attracted national and international outrage. Women in Abuja, Nigeria, hold a candlelight vigil on Wednesday, May 14, one month after nearly 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram. The abductions have attracted national and international outrage.
Nigerians protest over kidnapped schoolgirls
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
>
>>
Photos: Nigerians protest over kidnapped girls Photos: Nigerians protest over kidnapped girls

On Monday, the commissioner said the proliferation of such protests was "posing a serious security threat" in the capital city of Abuja.

"Information reaching us is that too soon dangerous elements will join the groups under the guise of protest and detonate explosive(s) aimed at embarrassing the government. Accordingly protests on the Chibok Girls is hereby banned with immediate effect," his office said in its original statement.

More than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped in northern Nigeria in April by Boko Haram, an act that drew international condemnation.

The terror group abducted an estimated 276 girls on April 14 from a boarding school in Chibok. Dozens escaped, but more than 200 girls are still missing.

Nigerians and others have accused their government of not acting swiftly or efficiently enough to protect the girls seized in the dead of night.

Authorities' apparent change of heart came after an outcry on the part of protesters. One group, #BringBackOurGirls, threatened legal action.

"Our Movement is legitimate and lawful and cannot be arrested by the police whose responsibility is to enforce, not betray the law," it said in a statement.

An adviser to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan sought to explain the apparent contradiction.

"This present administration has never, ever tried to violate anybody's rights. We believe in human rights, we believe in citizens' rights," Doyin Okupe told CNN's Isha Sesay. "The police command has come to further clear the statement."

"The ban that the commissioner of police in Abuja proclaimed is like asking people, look, before you go on a protest, you have to come to the police, to come and clear with the police and let us work together to ensure that nobody's life is in danger," he said.

Boko Haram translates as "Western education is a sin" in the Hausa language. The militant group says its aim is to impose a stricter enforcement of Sharia law across Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, which is split between a majority Muslim north and a mostly Christian south.

The military actually knows where the girls are, "but as you will understand, you just cannot storm a place like that," Okupe said.

He added: "I believe that by God's grace, we are very near the end of this whole unfortunate saga."

READ: Nigerian villagers fight off attacks by Boko Haram

READ: CNN exclusive: Nigerian girl who escaped Boko Haram says she still feels afraid

READ: 'Fear is everywhere:' Boko Haram threat keeps abducted Nigerian girls' village awake

CNN's Nana Karikari-apau, Salma Abdelaziz and journalist Aminu Abubakar contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
June 10, 2014 -- Updated 1041 GMT (1841 HKT)
Arwa Damon meets two young orphans, now in Niger, whose mother died years ago -- and whose father was killed in a Boko Haram attack in Nigeria.
June 10, 2014 -- Updated 1041 GMT (1841 HKT)
A small river marks the border between Niger and Nigeria -- a shallow divide between security and the horrors of Boko Haram.
June 10, 2014 -- Updated 0959 GMT (1759 HKT)
CNN's Arwa Damon reports that U.S. sources now believe Boko Haram insurgents may be hiding on the islands of Lake Chad.
June 5, 2014 -- Updated 1915 GMT (0315 HKT)
Isha Sesay talks to journalist Aminu Abubakar who says approximately 500 people have been killed in northeastern Nigeria.
June 4, 2014 -- Updated 1007 GMT (1807 HKT)
A policeman stand beside children holding as members of Lagos based civil society groups hold rally calling for the release of missing Chibok school girls at the state government house, in Lagos, Nigeria, on May 5, 2014. Boko Haram on Monday claimed the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls in northern Nigeria that has triggered international outrage, threatening to sell them as
Police in Nigeria's capital Tuesday made a U-turn, saying a ban on protests in support of the more than 200 girls kidnapped in April does not exist.
May 27, 2014 -- Updated 0636 GMT (1436 HKT)
A top Nigerian official claims to know where the missing schoolgirls are located, as Arwa Damon reports.
May 26, 2014 -- Updated 2100 GMT (0500 HKT)
Arwa Damon reports on Nigerian schools sitting empty as residents live in fear of Boko Haram.
May 21, 2014 -- Updated 2311 GMT (0711 HKT)
A large part of northern and central Nigeria is now at the mercy of intensified attacks by Boko Haram, and the group seems to be embarking on a new phase of its campaign.
May 21, 2014 -- Updated 1402 GMT (2202 HKT)
Half of a yellow sun poster
It's one of the most important Nigerian stories to hit the big screen -- yet the director says Nigeria's bureaucracy is purposely preventing its release.
May 19, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
Opinion: The media turns Boko Haram into 'superstar monsters' -- which is exactly what they want.
May 13, 2014 -- Updated 1224 GMT (2024 HKT)
CNN's Nima Elbagir speaks with the mothers of two missing Nigerian schoolgirls.
May 12, 2014 -- Updated 1318 GMT (2118 HKT)
With fear in her eyes, a young woman tells CNN's Nima Elbagir, the first journalist to visit Chibok, how she fled gun-toting Islamic extremists.
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1039 GMT (1839 HKT)
Over the last 20 years, the narrative on the African continent has shifted from Afro-pessimism to Afro-optimism.
May 8, 2014 -- Updated 1125 GMT (1925 HKT)
Women in repressive countries are fighting back against injustice, writes Frida Ghitis.
March 4, 2014 -- Updated 1346 GMT (2146 HKT)
Biyi Bandele, who recently directed Oscar nominated Chiwetel Ejiofor in "Half of a Yellow Sun," discusses his remarkable journey.
May 11, 2014 -- Updated 0231 GMT (1031 HKT)
From regular people to celebrities, here are some of the people participating in the movement.
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 0933 GMT (1733 HKT)
Nigeria woke up to a brand new economy, apparently. But the country are suffering and its people responded with a hiss.
April 7, 2014 -- Updated 0900 GMT (1700 HKT)
At 23, many people around the world are still at university -- at that age, Gossy Ukanwoke had already started one.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1623 GMT (0023 HKT)
Oprah, if you're reading this, for goodness sake return this woman's calls.
Are you in Nigeria? Share your thoughts on the schoolgirls' kidnapping, but please stay safe.
ADVERTISEMENT