News / Africa

    Rights Groups in Nigeria Challenge Security Ban on Gatherings

    Security officials evacuate victims of a bomb attack at St. Rita's Catholic church in the Malali village in Nigeria's northern city of Kaduna, Oct. 28, 2012.
    Security officials evacuate victims of a bomb attack at St. Rita's Catholic church in the Malali village in Nigeria's northern city of Kaduna, Oct. 28, 2012.
    Heather Murdock
    Opposition groups in the northern Nigeria city of Kaduna are calling for the repeal of a ban on “meetings, rallies or assemblies” without police permission. Police maintain the ban is essential in times of political turmoil to maintain peace in a city with a history of political violence.
       
    Kaduna state Police Commissioner Olofemi Adeleke told VOA the ban is a temporary measure - enacted by security forces, not lawmakers - to prevent political violence.
     
    Cities all over the world require permits for some public gatherings, but this ban applies to all gatherings. For instance if you want to hold a meeting in a hotel, you have to obtain permission from the police before the hotel will rent you a conference room. Essentially this gives security forces the ability to decide who can have meetings, even in private.
     
    Opposition and rights groups say if the ban is enforced, they will challenge it in the courts as unconstitutional.

    Sulaiman Ahmed, the vice-chairman of the Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria, said, “Obviously the ban on social gatherings, or any political gathering, or either educational gathering except for the organization seek permission from the police or from the security agents is completely illegal, most especially in a democratic era.”  
     
    In the meantime, said Hafsat Mohammad Baba, an opposition party member, the ban has been working and events have been canceled over the past few weeks. Baba said that in her opinion, the ban was put into force by the ruling party ahead of the 2015 elections to prevent the opposition from gaining strength.
     
    “People have the right to voice out how they feel about the government in power because that is what we call democracy," she said. "At the end of the day, they are supposed to go back to the drawing board to see what they’ve done wrong and why people are so much against them instead of banning meetings, conferences or any gatherings.”
     
    The ban was put into place after fights broke out at a political rally in early October. In Kaduna, political quarrels can rapidly devolve into sectarian violence as political affiliations often divide along religious and ethnic lines.
     
    Last year, nearly 100 people were killed in sectarian violence in Kaduna, after triple church bombings killed nearly 20 others. In 2011, more than 800 people were killed in fighting that broke out after the presidential election.
     
    Yohanna Buru is a pastor and a local leader of interfaith initiatives. He said that as new elections loom, people should be holding more workshops and meetings, not fewer.
     
    “They’re setting the issue of peace backwards. The reason why I’m saying this is this: since we need peace, if we don’t sit down and talk together, if we don’t sit down at the dialogue table and talk together, then what are we going to do?" asked Buru.

    Buru agreed with security forces that rallies are extremely dangerous these days in Kaduna. He said the way to more prevent bloodshed, however, is not to stop the gatherings, but to secure them and to teach people how to meet in peace.
     
    Ibrahima Yakubu contributed to this report from Kaduna.

    You May Like

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    First Human Head Transplant Planned for 2017

    Italian neurosurgeon, assisted by team of 100 medical staff, to perform 36-hour surgery on Russian man with debilitating muscle-wasting disease

    Biden Urges Global Focus on Cancer as a 'Constant Emergency'

    At Vatican conference on regenerative medicine, Vice president notes that cancer kills more than 3,000 people each day in US alone

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora