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

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid