Nigeria’s famous protest spot, the Unity Fountain Park in Maitama, Abuja, is gradually being taken over by security forces who now prevent some category of protesters from using the venue.
FCT police spokesman, ASP Usen Omorodion, however told Everday.ng that the decision to deploy security agents was to prevent a breakdown of law and order by contending groups that meet at the spot.
He added that groups planning to use the spot are required to get police permit to use the fountain area for their protests or advocacy.
But the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group remains unfazed as the members gather daily to use the venue for their advocacy.
Two weeks ago, the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) members alleged they were manhandled and stopped mid-way into their protests against the killings in the State. Hundreds have been killed, while homes and places of worship, especially churches, have been razed down following attacks by alled Fulani herdsmen.
A SOKAPU member and assistant spokesman, Mr. Reuben Buhari, who was at the Unity Fountain Park narrated what transpired.
“The protest was held on May 2nd 2017 at the Unity Fountain Park in Abuja. It took two weeks of planning that was done with the utmost secrecy we could employ.
This was because of the moles that have been hired to disclose most of our group social media chats. Upon completion of our plan, we went to the park around 10 am only to meet about 10 security vehicles; a combination of the police, the DSS and some other security agencies.
“Before then, we had told the BBOG group about our protest and Aisha Yesufu promised to be there with us as a form of identifying with our plight, which is to highlight the killings in southern kaduna and the dire plight of our IDPs.
“The reason we decided to hold it in Abuja is the highhandedness the police deploys whenever we show any hint of protesting the biased and deliberate incompetence in addressing the continued killings in southern Kaduna. We felt the police in Abuja would have more professionalism in them hence our resolve to hold in Abuja.
At the Park, we had a serious argument with the police who insisted that we needed a permit to which we said no. We insisted that since our plan is just to hold a protest within the park and then address the press there, we didn’t need a permit.
“They later allowed us to proceed but in the middle of it, they came and said we should leave. They started pushing us and manhandling the pressmen there. We went across the road to hold an interview with AIT, they stopped us. Same with TVC. We had to drive away from there to conduct an interview with TVC.
“Aisha Yesufu, the co convener of the BBOG stood her ground and refused to leave insisting that the constitution of the country guarantees us the right to hold a peaceful protest.”