The statement credited to the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, that the street protests being embarked upon by Bring Back Our Girls, BBOG, advocacy group is a threat to public peace and order, has been faulted by Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka.
Soyinka, who spoke on Thursday in Lagos at a symposium, also warned that force must not be used against the BBOG campaigners and that they must be given their space to protest.
According to the Nobel laureate, the protests can never be too much as long as the kidnapped Chibok girls continue to be under Boko Haram captivity.
It would be recalled that the IGP, had on Wednesday, warned the BBOG campaigners against continuing with their street processions, which he said constituted a security threat to public peace and order. Also on Thursday, fully kitted and armed anti-riot police women took over Unity Fountain, Abuja, venue of the daily sit outs of the group.
Soyinka however frowned at the development, insisting that it would be dangerous to forget the girls.
‘‘I saw a report in a national daily that demonstrations on behalf of the Chibok girls pose a threat to national security and I thought, not again. My mind flew back immediately to another governor under whose democratic leadership, parents were tear-gassed for demonstrating peacefully about losing their children in a plane crash in Port Harcourt.
“Democracy is not just about campaigning. It is exercising human rights. It is about helping to build the society. Demonstrations cannot be too much as long as those girls are missing. Demonstrations are an act of solidarity. Wherever they are today, when their mothers demonstrate on their behalf, their morale is raised.
“That is my message to security operatives who get scared of those who are agitating for a cause and fire tear gas at them. They must be treated with utmost respect and must be given their space. It is an act of solidarity for the children. Otherwise, when you stop these demonstrations, you are saying forget about the children,’’ he said.
Soyinka, who also urged the Federal Government and its agencies to speak with one voice, said Nigerians should express solidarity with the missing girls and their families.
“I hope we don’t get the negative effects when they bring back our girls. And when we talk about democracy to our children, it is to teach them their rights. Therefore, there has to be greater coherence from the government and its agencies. We don’t have to know one single individual among the girls. We should demonstrate democratic responsibility. Let us continue to recognise solidarity with these girls and one day, they will come back or we will get to know what has become of them,” he said.
By Timothy Enietan-Matthews ….
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