Police Can’t Stop Rallies Over Abducted Schoolgirls, Abuja Court Declares

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Gudu, Abuja has ruled that the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, lacks the powers to stop rallies or possessions being held in respect of the over 276 schoolgirls kidnapped at the Federal Government College, Chibok, Borno State.
While delivering judgement on Wednesday, Justice Abubakar Talba, said that the Public Order Act, Cap 382 Laws of Nigeria 1990, which the Police purportedly relied on, "does not authorise men of the NPF to disrupt rallies or possession on the issue of the abducted Chibok girls."

Sahara Reporters states that the judgment was on a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by the Executive Secretary of Anti-Corruption Network and former member of the House of Representatives, Dino Melaye, challenging the disruption on May 9 this year, of the rally he led in Abuja in relation to the abducted female students of Government Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State by members of the by Boko Haram Islamic sect.

It was gathered that the judge declared unconstitutional the arrest of, and assault on Melaye by men of the NPF during the May 9 rally in Abuja.

The suit marked: CV/1521/14 which has the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and Commissioner of Police, FCT Command was not defended by the respondents.

"The arrest of the applicant and threat to further arrest him in respect of rallies or possession is unlawful. The disruption of peaceful rallies and procession by agents of the 1st and 2nd respondents is illegal and unconstitutional," Justice Talba said.

The judge held that since the respondents failed to file any counter process to the one filed by Melaye was an admission of the allegations made against them by the applicant.

He consequently ordered the IGP and CP, FCT to "tender a written apology to the applicant as provided for under Section 35(6) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

The judge also granted an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents and their agents from further "harassing, molesting, intimidating, abducting, arresting, detaining and prosecuting the applicant in respect of peaceful rallies or procession in Abuja or any part of Nigeria."

Justice Talba also awarded N150,000 in damages and cost against the respondents and in favour of the applicant.

It could be recalled that Melaye was arrested and molested by policemen during a rally he led in Abuja to protest against the Federal Government's seeming inaction over the 14 April abduction of the Chibok girls.



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