Pro-Buhari protesters attack The Guardian reporter, Charly Boy, others
The members of the #ResumeOrResign Campaign led by entertainment icon, Charles Oputa (a.k.a Charly Boy) and some journalists escaped lynching by hoodlums at the Wuse Market in Abuja yesterday.
The group had marched deep into the market, chanting their ‘Our Mumu Don Do’ slogan against President Muhammadu Buhari’s absence, which is in its 100th day today, when suddenly some young men started trooping in confrontationally with their ‘Sai Baba!’ counter-chant.
Everyone was caught off guard when the hoodlums started throwing stones at everyone. They formed a cordon around the rally area in a seemingly planned attack.
The ResumeOrResign Campaign convener, Deji Adeyanju, had earlier briefed the media on a planned march to Aso Villa today to mark Day 100 since Buhari’s absence from office, saying that Buhari administration was worse than Gen. Sani Abacha’s regime because Abacha did not “kill a thousand Shiites and justified it.”
The campaigners then proceeded to Wuse Market where they planned to have a protest march ahead of the march to Aso Villa.
The Charly Boy-led group approached the Wuse Market in a convoy of three cars and two powered motorbikes only to find that the market’s security agents have closed the gate in an attempt to turn the campaigners back.
The crowd which had already gathered, however, pushed past the gate as Oputa was trying to have a chat with the market’s Head of Security.
Charly Boy, at this point, got back into his BMW Convertible coupe and drove ahead to park on the premises where he proceeded to lead the march further into the combs of the market.
Trouble started when the march took a halt at the instance of Charly Boy and the convener, who were to address the crowd. A young northern man, clearly Hausa-speaking, forced his way into the crowd to face Charly Boy directly with an aggressive and continuous chant of ‘Sai Baba! Sai Baba!’.
The tide turned with a sudden chorus of the same chant which overwhelmed the rally. Suddenly, a large number of Hausa-speaking youths dominated the scene. Charly Boy’s attempt to calm the instigator only made him violent as he started throwing punches at Oputa.
What followed, almost instantly, was a rain of stones on everyone, forcing the crowd, including the pro-Buhari supporters to disperse. In the process, The Guardian reporter Oludare Richards and some other journalists were hit while trying to flee the scene.
Efforts by The Guardian reporter to explain to the attackers that he was a journalist only doing his job fell on deaf ears as they hit him continuously with stones and sticks till he fell to the ground.
He struggled to get up and scampered to safety. While still being chased and dripping with blood from the wound on his face, he attempted to navigate the market maze only to collide with Charly Boy who was also trying to find his way out.
The attackers seemed positioned at every turn in the market maze to engage their targets violently. Several of Charly Boy’s followers were caught and wounded with stones.
Charly Boy was finally able to find one of his bikers and zoomed off seated at the back while still being attacked with stones. The Guardian reporter, in his final attempt to escape from the scene, stopped and faced his attackers, shouting: “I am a journalist, check my I.D. card!”
One of the hoodlums, appearing well dressed and educated, said: “Let me see the I. D. card!” He looked at the card very closely, looked at the reporter’s face, and then waved to his colleagues to move on.
The reporter recalled that just as himself, Charly Boy, who was lucky to have escaped from the market alive, would have probably been beaten and stoned to death if he had fallen while running. Many people sustained injuries during the attack.
An eyewitness said Oputa was attacked by the angry protesters who are believed to be “supporters of the president.”
Mr. Godwin Onyekwere, a shop owner in the market said: “Charley Boy came to this market with some cameramen doing his protest here. I was standing in front of my shop when I saw him running for his dear life, being chased by those youths. They nearly lynched him, because those youths almost overpowered the policemen near him.”
The security operatives later returned to remove Charly Boy’s vehicles from the market, using tear-gas to disperse the protesters who tried to stop him and his followers.
The musician and his fellow campaigners were last week attacked by security agents who dispersed them violently from the Unity Fountain, also in Abuja.
Wuse market is Abuja’s largest and is dominated by northerners, many of them supporters of President Buhari. The gates of the market were temporarily closed and manned by heavily armed security operatives after the incident.
It is yet unclear if the march to Aso Villa would hold after the incident. The group had earlier announced that there would be a similar action in other locations, including Lagos at the Gani Fawehimi Freedom Park, Ojota, New York at the 42nd Avenue and a vigil at the Abuja House in London.
Attempts to reach Charly Boy on his personal line, at press time, failed.
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