AS ‘Buhari must go’ protests were held in some states of the federation to mark Democracy Day, supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari, who stormed Unity Fountain, Abuja on Saturday morning, to counter any anti-government protest, fought over the sharing of money believed to have been offered them for their services.
This was just as the anti-Buhari protested rocked some states in the southern part of the country, paralysing commercial and social activities in states like Ondo, Ogun, Oyo, Osun and others.
Eyewitnesses said leaders of the group were locked in a heated exchange over the sharing of the money given for organising the counter protests.
One of the pro-Buhari protesters told newsmen in anger that people were paid between N1,000 and N2,000 to join demonstrations against the June 12 protest and that the organisers were unwilling to redeem their pledge of monetary benefit.
He said altercation broke out as a result of the failure to redeem the promised money. Abdul Yusuf, who was part of the pro-Buhari counter-protest, said in Pidgin English, that he was invited to Unity Fountain, the venue of the protest in Abuja, by one Mohammed Garuba. “I dey for my area when they called me to come and protest. They promised to pay us N2, 000, some N1, 500 and N1, 000,” he said.
He added that he would not have put on the ‘#I stand with Buhari’ branded shirt he was wearing if he had not been promised money.
Police disperse anti-Buhari protesters in Abuja
Meanwhile, the police, on Saturday, shot teargas to disperse protesters in the Gudu area of Abuja area as the country marked Democracy Day on June 12.
The protesters had earlier blocked the Gudu Junction to protest the state of the nation. The protesters in Gudu district, a satellite town in Abuja, had turned out in their numbers carrying placards and banners with various inscriptions.
One of their major demands was the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari from office.
According to them, the president has failed in addressing the challenges in the country, including that of insecurity.
Policemen shot teargas, gunshots to disperse protesters in Lagos
Though the protest started a bit late in Lagos State, policemen had to fire gunshots and teargas canisters to disperse protesters in at Ojota area of the state, on Saturday. The police claimed that the gunshots and teargas canisters were fired when suspected hoodlums were trying to hijack the protest.
Three protesters, who were accused of being unruly and recording police activities, were also arrested, but were later released after intervention of some senior police officers.
There were, however, peaceful protests by different groups of people in Surulere, Lekki, Lagos Island and Alausa.
Sunday Tribune gathered that the Ojota protest started around 9:00 a.m, about two hours after some prospective protesters had left the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park. The protesters, some of whom were members of the Revolution Now Group, converged near the Freedom Park and were heading towards the park when they were stopped by policemen. Heavily armed policemen, who had arrived at the scene before the protesters, had to fire teargas and gun shots to disperse the crowd.
Journalists, who were at the park to cover the event, also had their share of harassment from the policemen, who initially stopped them from covering the protest.
Heavy police presence also characterised the protests in Alausa, Surulere and Lekki, as Area Commander›s and Divisional Police Officers of the affected places, policemen from the Task Force and Rapid Response Squad were on the ground.
Unleashing teargas on peaceful protesters undemocratic —PDP, Falana
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has condemned, in strong terms, the violent clampdown by those it called the agents of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Muhammadu Buhari on Nigerians who peacefully protested on Saturday.
In a statement issued on Saturday by Kola Ologbondiyan, its national Publicity Secretary, the party described “the brutal clampdown” on citizens on Democracy Day as “a sacrilegious demonstration of APC’s aversion to democracy as well as its barefaced repugnance towards Nigerians, particularly in their demands for their rights.”
“It is awkward that the APC and President Buhari, who were allowed their freedom when they protested in 2014, would turn around to subject Nigerians to actions of inhumanity, including the use of firearms against the people, as being witnessed today.
“It is instructive to note that President Buhari, in his supposed Democracy Day address, failed to rein in his security operatives, despite the cautions by the PDP. This places the culpability for whatever befalls Nigerians, in the face of the violent attacks by security agencies, on the APC as well as the President’s desk.”
The main opposition party said it was not surprised that in his over 20 minutes speech, President Buhari never made any commitment towards upholding the democratic tenets of free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of association and right to peaceful protest, as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution and our statutes, from which he, as APC candidate, drew huge benefit in 2014.
Also, human rights activist and constitutional lawyer, Mr Femi Falana has condemned security agents for their highhanded treatment of Nigerians who gathered peacefully at different locations across the country to register their displeasure at the situation of the country.
Amnesty International had on Friday called on the federal government to respect the rights of every Nigerian who will be coming out to protest on Saturday, saying that “protest is not a crime and that the law enforcement agencies have a duty to facilitate people’s fundamental right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to protect protesters.”
While lending his voice to the democratic calls during the Sunrise daily programme on Channels television on Saturday, Falana said the police acted out of democratic stipulations in the constitution.
“The police, as posited by the constitution, shall provide security for the protesters, instead of harassing, tear gassing and attacking them. Since the Lagos State Police Command was aware that some people are going to protest today (Saturday), what should be done is for the police to guide them and ensure that the peaceful protest is not hijacked by criminal elements.
“But to unleash teargas canisters on peaceful demonstrators is no longer permissible under the law,” he said.
“Also, I need to make it clear to the police that this should be the last time that the rights of Nigerians to protest peacefully will be so violated because I recall, very importantly, that in May 2003, General Muhammadu Buhari now President Buhari and the global leaders of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) were shown violently at their peaceful rally in Kano stadium and the party decided to go to court in the case of All Nigerians Peoples’ Party (ANPP) and the Inspector General of Police (IGP).
“We won the case at the Federal High Court and High Court of Appeal, which now culminates in the enactment and inclusion of Section 83 sub-sections 4 in the Police Act to the effect that during protest, the police shall provide security for the protesters once it is a peaceful rally,” he said.
Nigerians must work to make our democracy work – Fayemi
Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi has urged Nigerians to be more determined in ensuring that democracy works in the country. Fayemi, in a statement marking the June 12 Democracy day by his Chief Press Secretary, Yinka Oyebode, said despite its imperfection, “democracy remains the best option for the country,” adding that through the determination of the citizens and their active participation in the democratic process, “Nigerians can achieve a truly great country of their dream.”
He urged Nigerians not to relent in their search for lasting peace as a necessary condition for progress and prosperity, saluting the heroic deeds of patriots who worked assiduously to actualise democratic rule in the country, especially the symbol of the June 12 struggle, the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola. He said only a truly great, peaceful and prosperous Nigeria could be a befitting compensation for their sacrifices.
“We may not have reached the Promised Land, but we have left Egypt. We may not have attained the best, but we surely have made some progress as a nation. “With more determination and active participation of the citizens in the democratic process, we would reach the promised land,” he said.
Bauchi gov salutes courage, patriotism of heroes of democracy
Bauchi State governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, has saluted the courage and patriotism of all democrats dead and alive who strove to ensure that democracy stood on both legs in the country.
The governor, in a message to mark June 12 as Democracy Day, said, “We laboured together to arrive at where we are today and we shall continue to march the state forward to greatness with determination and sincerity of purpose with your support and prayers.”
The governor said he was grateful to Allah for the giant strides achieved within the two year of the PDP-led administration, noting that he had started transforming the lives of the people and repositioning the state to compete favorably in infrastructure, human development, agriculture, education, health and other areas.
“The two-year journey was not a bed of roses. But with determination and the support enjoyed from the good people of the state, we were able to pilot the affairs of government to a sound socio-political pedestal.
“In the course of the journey to greatness, the government had to introduce several administrative and financial management mechanisms hitherto alien to the system to support the Action Plan to fruition within the two-year period,” he said.
22 years of uninterrupted democratic rule has proven naysayers wrong – Gombe Governor
Gombe State governor, Inuwa Yahaya, has declared that 22 years of uninterrupted democratic rule in Nigeria has proven naysayers wrong, praising Nigerians for resolving to maintain democracy as the means of governance. The governor, in a goodwill message on the occasion of the 2021 Democracy Day, expressed appreciation that Nigeria›s “democratic maturity has shattered the myths about African democracy being under the grip of one single leader or political party.”
He noted that, “Nigeria will continue to hold the torch of nation building, democratic pluralism and political stability in Africa and the world at large.”
“After 22 years of uninterrupted democracy, I make bold to say that Nigeria’s democracy has come of age. We have witnessed successful transitions of power from one administration to the next and from one political party to another,” he said.
Lalong harps on peace
Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State has appealed to citizens of the state to put the interest of the peace and stability of Plateau above personal, religious and political sentiments. The governor, who said this in a broadcast to mark Democracy Day, said his administration has built a society that promotes freedom, justice, tolerance and reconciliation.
“We all have to bear in mind that we have a role to play in not only sustaining the democratic culture, but also standing up for good governance and politics that seeks to serve rather than be served.
“Those of us in one position of authority or the other must serve with the fear of God and accountability to the people we serve.
“Our nation is passing through a difficult moment which we must not allow to diminish our hope and faith. We shall emerge stronger if we work together in overcoming poverty, insecurity, religious fanaticism, ethnic bigotry, intolerance, lawlessness, political rascality and corruption which are major threats to our democracy and national cohesion,” he said.
Let’s build bridges for Nigeria to rise again – Abiodun
The Ogun State governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, has urged Nigerians to immortalise Chief MKO Abiola by pushing asides all negative and divisive forces and policies. He stated this in his message delivered during the celebration of Democracy Day, held at the MKO Abiola Stadium, Kuto Abeokuta, on Saturday, saying the time has come in the history of the country when everyone must join forces to build bridges and demolish fences.
The governor said all quest for self-determination and other sectarian agitations must be shelved for one indivisible country. “We must not forget that, as individuals, we can also change the course of history, like MKO did, even at this point in time. We must all note that each and every one of us, our actions and inactions will either propel the country forward or fuel the already tensed situation. Our country should rise and fulfill its full potential in the comity of nations.”
Nigeria moving forward despite odds – Kwara governor
“Whatever the challenges of nation building confronting our fatherland, the truth is that we are pacing ahead in all indices of development, while institutions of democracy are growing stronger and getting more mature.
“The growing public consciousness around issues of rights and development, the widening space and platforms through which public opinions are ventilated, and the increasingly responsive yet firm leadership underline the fact that we are moving.
Nigerians kept democracy alive —Adamawa gov
That Nigerian Democratic process is still on after two decades is the resilience and courage of patriotic Nigerians, Adamawa State governor, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, has said. He said “the courage and desire of the citizenry to allow democracy thrive after two decades of uninterrupted process is worthy of commendation.”
Governor Fintiri, who also commended the electorate for trusting him with their mandate, noted that “we will continue to ensure we keep to our promise, a government that is a progressive instrument of the common good, rooted in our values of opportunity, responsibility, determined to give our people the tools they need to make the most of their lives in a difficult period made worst by the dwindling economic hardship”.
Edo protesters slam Buhari, demand good governance, security
Protesters who trooped out in their hundreds on Saturday in Edo State to mark the June 12 Democracy Day, used the opportunity to slam President Muhammadu Buhari for his inability to provide good leadership and governance in the last six years of his administration. This was just as the called on the Buhari-led Federal Government to provide adequate security, noting that the ineptitude of the president had brought Nigeria to its knees.
The protesters, who began their match at Ring Road in Benin, the state capital, were provided security cover by the men of the Nigeria Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence corps and the Vigilante group, who accompanied them to the Government House, where they were received by the Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu.
One of the leaders, Kola Edokpayi, of the Talakawa Assembly, who spoke on behalf of members of seven other civil right groups, lamented that the nonchalant attitude of the president towards security of lives and property had brought the country to the present unacceptable situation.
Anti-Buhari protest rocks Ibadan as Makinde drives into procession
A crowd of protesters, mostly youths, on Saturday took over major streets in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, chanting that President Muhammadu Buhari must go and denouncing what they termed bad governance, insecurity, poverty and other vices, plaguing the country. This was just as major markets in the capital city, namely Dugbe, Alesinloye, Gbagi, Sango were shut, while shop owners and other business concerns refused to open over fears that the protests may snowball into violence.
Despite warning from security agencies, the protesters marched through strategic areas, such as Bodija, Mokola, University of Ibadan and Iwo Road and Sango.
Armed with placards, banners and Nigerian national flags, the protesters initially converged at Mokola and proceeded towards the bridge where another group of demonstrators were already waiting for them.
Though, the protesters sang and shouted Buhari must go in the presence of the security agents for some minutes, none of them was harassed before they turned and moved towards Sango.
Speaking to journalists, one of the protesters, Tayo Ogunwale, stated: “They cannot stop us from expressing our minds. The country is upside down and the President keeps giving excuses. Despite his colossal failure which is obvious to even his supporters, he has never accepted that he has failed us.
Another protester, an unemployed graduate, Aisat, said she learnt how to bake a cake and sew when she could not secure a job, lamenting that “I make some sales using Twitter and he woke up one day and banned it.
Meanwhile, the Oyo State governor, Mr Seyi Makinde, on Saturday, drove into the procession of the June 12 protesters.
Makinde, who was accompanied by a few security personnel, met the protesters at the Osuntokun Junction along UI-Secretariat road. Addressing the protesters from the open roof of his Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), he advised them to be peaceful and guard against hoodlums, who may hijack their protest.
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