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#EndSARS: FCTA ban protest as Army pledges to defend nation from security threats

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Story from Aisha RABO and Onyiyechi IHEANACHO, Abuja

The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has banned street protests and any form of public demonstration in the nation’s capital city over safety fears.

The Nigerians especially the youths have been protesting nationwide for over a week for the scrapping of the now-defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force, a unit with a long history of abuse of power.

A statement on Thursday by the Chief Press Secretary to the Minister of FCT, Anthony Ogunleye, said the decision to ban all street demonstrations was taken at the committee’s meeting on Tuesday.

Ogunleye stated that the ban has become necessary in view of the dangers posed by COVID-19 pandemic.

It affirmed that the COVID-19 guidelines regulating public gatherings in the FCT and the states recommend physical distancing, temperature checks, the use of facial coverings, amongst others.

READ ALSO: #EndSARS: I am very proud of my son, Falz, other youths – Femi Falana

“Clearly all these guidelines were flouted by the protesters,” the committee said.

On the EMBER months of October to December, it assured all residents and road users of its commitment to ensuring their safety in accordance with existing guidelines by relevant agencies.

It advised all residents to obey all extant traffic rules and regulations while travelling during this period

Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, has earlier posted Thursday morning that his driver, Yohanna Shankuk, was killed in a road accident he alleged was indirectly caused by the #ENDSARS protests.

He disclosed this via his Twitter handle that Shankuk died in the Berger area of Abuja after he was hit by a vehicle on Wednesday.

He said the vehicle had veered into a one-way lane while trying to avoid protesters in the area.

He posted, “A vehicle that saw advancing protesters at Berger roundabout, made a U-turn, took the one-way back and ran over him as he was making his way on foot to my private office,” the minister said.

In a statement released by the FCT administration on Thursday, the security committee decided at its Wednesday meeting that the protests are in violation of safety rules.

The statement read, “While the committee recognizes the rights of citizens as regards freedom of association and movement as enshrined in the constitution, it has observed that the unruly conduct of the crowd and manner of demonstrations are in complete violation of the COVID-19 safety protocols which were put in place to safeguard the lives of citizens.

The committee also alleged that the protesters have failed to comply with COVID-19 guidelines regulating public gatherings.

The committee’s meeting presided over by FCT Minister, Muhammad Bello, resolved that the ongoing protests endanger the lives of everyone in the capital city.

“All street demonstrations, protests, and processions will not be allowed anywhere within the FCT,” the statement read.

In a related development, the Nigerian Army also warned that it is prepared to protect the country’s democracy at all cost apparently referring to the #EndSARS protesters.

In a statement by the Acting Director Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa assured it is committed to the “sustenance of peace, security and defence of democracy in Nigeria.”

According to the statement: “The Nigerian Army (NA) wishes to reassure law-abiding citizens that it is highly committed to the sustenance of peace, security and defence of democracy in  Nigeria.

“As a responsible and law-abiding organisation,  the NA reaffirms its unalloyed loyalty and commitment to the President, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari and the Constitution of the Country.

“The NA hereby warns all subversive elements and trouble makers to desist from such acts as it remains highly committed to defending the country and her democracy at all cost.

“The NA is ready to fully support the civil authority in whatever capacity to maintain law and order and deal with any situation decisively.

“All officers and men are directed never to be distracted by anti-democratic forces and agents of disunity”.

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