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Senate condemns attack on agitators as anti-Buhari protest continues

By Segun Olaniyi, Oludare Richards and George Opara (Abuja), and Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna)   |   10 August 2017   |   4:35 am

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• Group accuses president of holding nation to ransom
• Arewa youths blame northern govs, south-west leaders

The protest against President Muhammadu Buhari’s absence from the country continued yesterday in Abuja despite attack on the protesters on Tuesday by policemen. Essentially, the protest at the Unity Fountain is against Buhari staying for over 90 days in London, United Kingdom on a medical vacation.

The protesters under the auspices of “Our-Mumu-Don-Do Movement” led by maverick singer and social crusader, Charles Oputa popularly known as Charly Boy are accusing Buhari of holding the country to ransom by his continued absence.

According to them, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has been unable to allocate portfolios to ministerial nominees and take decisions that could move the nation forward despite the transmission of power to him, proving that Buhari’s absence is stagnating the nation.

The protesters who held a sit-out at the Unity Fountain, under the watchful eyes of the police and other security agencies, stressed that President Buhari is not greater than the country.

Ariyo Atoye of the Coalition in Defence Of Nigerian Democracy (CDND) said Buhari was being supported by a cabal that wanted to continue using his name to loot the national treasury.

A member of the BringBackOurGirls group, Aisha Yesufu, who also joined the protesters criticised the police harassment of the protesters, saying they should be deployed in the North-East to fight Boko Haram insurgents rather than assaulting harmless youths.

Yesufu added that Nigeria must move forward with or without the president, stressing that the country could not afford to be held down by him. She urged Nigerians to join the “resume or resign protests” to compel the government to do the right thing.

“Buhari is not greater than Nigeria and he cannot continue to hold the nation to ransom because he is sick. I once said he should resign and allow another person to take over. It is not as if we hate him, we love him and we pray for his quick recovery. It is not about a person, it is about the country; our mumu don do,” she said.

Charly Boy and Nollywood actor, Jim Iyke who later joined the group urged Nigerian youths to join the campaign to demand Buhari’s return or his resignation, stressing that the issue was about the future and well-being of the nation.

Charly Boy resumed with protesters yesterday despite having been rushed to a hospital on Tuesday after his collapse following tear gas and water cannon shots fired at him by policemen who were alleged to have been aggressive in their efforts to curb the group’s activities.

While the “Concerned Nigerians” coalition maintained their demand on President Buhari’s resumption or resignation, the “Mumu Don Do” chant by the coalition was yesterday done under the watchful eyes of soldiers, Department of State Services (DSS) and the police in vans stationed around the protest area.

Oputa condemned the reaction of the police on Tuesday, recounting how protesters were attacked by anti-riot policemen with tear gas and water cannons. He said he was hit with the butt of a rifle on his eye by a policeman and was quickly rushed to the hospital for treatment.

“We were not even up to 10 people that set out for the Unity Fountain. When we got there, we met close to 200 policemen. Initially, they tried to stop us from going further. But we explained to them that ours would be a peaceful demonstration.”

The FCT Police Command said it intervened to prevent breakdown of law and order, and disturbance of public peace by dispersing miscreants, hoodlums and other criminal elements that had infiltrated the protest by the group.

The Senate yesterday condemned the brutality meted out to the protesters by the police, saying the security agents should not violate the rights of the people they were employed to protect.

This followed Charly Boy’s swipe at the Senate for its dismissive position against calls by protesters for the president to resign or return to work. The group which had described the Senate as a monumental disappointment for failing to ask necessary questions about the long absence of Buhari, affirmed that police intimidation and brutality would not deter it from demanding explanation from the Federal Government on the whereabouts of the president and his medical fitness to continue in office.

Again, the police yesterday allegedly used force to disperse the protesters in Abuja. But the Senate spokesman, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, in a statement, said while the lawmakers condemned the subject of the protest “which is aimed at forcing President Buhari to either terminate his medical vacation or resign”, the upper chamber would not support any violation of the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.

“Since the ‘Our-Mumu-Don-Do’ protesters did not conduct themselves in such a manner as to disturb public peace, it is not right for the police to brutalize the people as they reportedly did.”

The Senate called for a review of the police rules of engagement to conform with the principles of democracy as being practised in modern democracies. Meanwhile, the Arewa Youth Forum (AYF) has accused northern governors and South West politicians of being responsible for the protest against Buhari.

The youths from the 19 northern states and Abuja also came down hard on some officials of the presidency whom they accused of not being loyal to the Buhari’s presidency.

The Arewa youths advised the governors and South West politicians to call those they described as “attack dogs” engaged in the protest to retrace their steps or face being exposed in their secret political deals.

In a statement, AYF National President, Alhaji Gambo Ibrahim Gujungu, said members of the Arewa group “are pained that the same situation that happened during the late president Umar Musa Yar’Adua is trying to repeat itself and instead of northern politicians to come together and fight for the interest of the region, they are busy positioning themselves for the post of vice president.”

Gujungu accused the northern governors whom he said won election on the back of President Buhari’s popularity as not doing enough. “They are either being cowed into silence by people like Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose or are busy holding meetings negotiating for the VP slot.

“Let it be known that we are not unmindful of what is happening in Nigeria. We know those that are behind the protest against the president. As a group, we are giving them seven days to call their attack dogs to order or we will have no option than to expose them.”




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