The Punch reports that the Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has reacted to the ban on protests in Abuja and warned against using force against #BringBackOurGirls protesters. He said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government must not infringe on the democratic right of the people especially as protests don’t constitute national threats.
Ibrahim Idris who is the inspector general of police had warned the Oby Ezekwesili-led BBOG campaigners to stop any form of protest in Abuja and described their action as a security threat. He ordered that any group planning to protest must get first get approval from the authority. Soyinka said:
“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 urged Nigerians to express solidarity with the missing girls and their families and also advised the federal government and its agencies to speak with one voice. He said:
“We have important things like reviving the economy, and fighting corruption, among others, to worry about. Yes, those things are important but ultimately, the society is for humanity and when one of us is hurt, we must allow ourselves to protest.”
“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.”