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Police stop #'Bring Back Our Girls' rally in Kaduna

By The Citizen
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A planned peaceful rally organised by women and youths from the 19 northern states to demand the freedom of the kidnapped Chibok secondary school girls was yesterday aborted by officers of the Kaduna State police command.

A coalition of northern youth groups under the aegis of Northern Youths Consensus Movement had on Wednesday made known its arrangement to mobilise 150,000 youths from the region to occupy Kaduna from Saturday till tomorrow in protest of security challenges in the region.

The state government had, in an attempt to stop the peaceful rally meant to take place at Murtala Muhammed Square, Kaduna, immediately banned any gathering, games and weddings at the stadium for two days.

But the youths who insisted on the peaceful rally went to the stadium to join the global community in demanding the immediate release of the abducted girls.

Before the youths could get to their protest venue, security operatives had already locked the stadium's entrance and ordered residents of the state to stay away from the stadium or they would be shot.

Our correspondent who was at the stadium saw hundreds of security men from the Nigerian Army, Police and Civil Defence with a police helicopter and an armoured personnel carrier (APC). They blocked all access roads to Murtala Square, venue of the protest.

The police did not only take over the stadium but they made sure that their officers were scattered all over the state capital, thereby instiling fear in the residents of the state.

At the Lugard Hall roundabout, there was heavy security presence, even as an armoured carrier was mobilised to the scene.

Despite efforts by the police to stop the rally, the youths still addressed the press at an undisclosed hotel, saying that even though they had been stopped from protesting outside, they called on all the youths in the north to proceed on a stay-at-home protest on Monday.

They lamented that security agents who always cry for lack of adequate weapons and vehicles in times of need could mobilise all sorts of assorted weapons to stop youths from carrying out a peaceful protest.

They insisted that they would not rest until security challenges in the north were totally addressed.

The coordinator of the movement, Comrade Ibrahim Garba Awala, said the youths were tired of the senseless killings going on in the region, particularly in the north-east. 'Killings are increasing in the north on a daily basis and the government seems not to be doing anything to stop it. As northerners and Nigerians, we believe we must gather to fight this insecurity problem together, because the security of Nigeria is a collective responsibility.

'Nobody can stop us from exercising our right to ensure the security of this country. Since our leaders are not bothered about the security of the region, we the youths will take our future into our hands by ensuring that we occupy Kaduna until the right thing is done,' he said.