Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, on Thursday, warned against the use of force against the #BringBackOurGirls campaigners, saying that the group should be given their space to protest.
He also noted that protests by the group could not be too much as long as the Chibok girls remained Boko Haram captives.
Soyinka said this at a symposium to start the 20th anniversary programme of Halifield Schools, Maryland, Lagos.
The social commentator, who delivered the keynote address, added that peaceful demonstration was a democratic right which could not constitute threats to national security and public order.
The Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, had on Wednesday, warned the BBOG campaigners against continuing with their street processions, which he said constituted a security threat to public peace and order.
He stated that the police “will not sit on the fence and watch such a scenario unfold.”
But Soyinka, while reacting to the IG’s comments at the occasion, noted that it would be dangerous to forget the missing Chibok girls, saying that it could boost their morale and teach pupils in the country the need to stand up for their rights.
‘‘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 said.
Soyinka, who also urged the Federal Government and its agencies to speak with one voice, said Nigerians should express solidarity with the missing girls and their families.