• Scores of policemen takeover Unity Fountain
• Charley Boy, other protesters teargassed
• We stopped protest over hijack by miscreants – Police
The day two of protest against the health status of President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday took a new dimension as the police dispersed protesters with tear gas, police dogs, and hot water as they came in groups to the Unity Fountain in Abuja for the week long protest.
The Daily Times observed that scores of policemen had gathered at the venue of the protest (the Unity Fountain) , which is the converging point for the protesters and frustrated every effort by the organizers of the group, ‘Concerned Nigerian- Our Mumu Don Do”, to review the activities of the previous day and likely set an agenda for the new day.
But the police team prevented the protesters from gathering and prevented them from gaining access to the Unity Fountain for the protest.
One of the leaders of the group, Charles Oputa, (a.k.a Charley Boy) narrated to The Daily Times how he was brutalized and teargassed despite the fact the protesters came for a peaceful assembly which is allowed in the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
The celebrity further claimed that the policemen frustrated everything the group was doing to stage a peaceful gathering, adding that he is ready to sacrifice his life to ensure that the rule of law prevail while the masses are freed from the stronghold of what he called ‘certain cabal’.
He said, “Today was supposed to be a sit-out of not more than 10 to 15 people. Yesterday, we had more crowd and we said to ourselves that we shall be gathering here from today for the next one week.
“ At least 10 people will sit down and we will discuss our problems in the country, But as we arrived at the venue, there were battalions of police people with dogs, spraying us with canon water, teargassing us and even shooting at us.
“That’s how my eyes are affected, I can’t believe that this is happening in my country. If they think that just this little thing that they did is going to stop us, they have another thing coming.
“We want to know what is wrong with our President for Christ’s sake. How can we be in the country and nobody is telling us anything”.
Another co-convener of the group, Mr Deji Adeyanju, also decried the role of the police, saying that the action of the policemen was uncalled for.
He said, “They (the policemen) said that we have done a successful sit-out protest yesterday and it was all over the whole world, that we have made our point and that we should go home.
“ They also stated that there is a directive from above that the sit-out cannot continue because the sit- out is constituting an embarrassment.
“One DSP Onuh, one of the most senior officers on ground, was the one that told us that and we asked from where, is it from London, from Osinbajo, is it from the cabal, who is the above?
“There were over a hundred and something of them with dogs and everything and we sat down and we started singing and they started attacking us, shooting in the air, they started shooting teargas canisters at us, water canons, they used the dogs on us.
“Somebody fainted, he is in the hospital now. Area father (Charley Boy) fell down there and they were still spraying water canons on him, a journalist from STV was also attacked, he was injured, he was dragged, they seized his camera and all that.
“All what we are saying is simple, we will not stop, we just want the president to either resume or resign”.
Another protester who could not pronounce his name because of the effect of teargas on the protesters, said, “We came out today to ask for the health status of the President. We are not here for evil intention. We are not here to fight anybody.
“We just want to know the state of the President’s health and details of his recovery. When McCain was sick, we knew he had brain tumor, what is wrong with the President, we don’t know. If we have a solution to proffer, how will I know what to say.
“This is where we are as a nation. They are tear gassing us but Nigerians youths must come back and support us”.
One of the protesters, Ariyo-Dare Ateyo, also lamented the level of insincerity in the government circle, claiming that despite the fact that power has been transmitted to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, he alleged that Buhari is still performing official functions like the statement he issued on the Ozubulu mayhem.
He said, “We are not being sincere. You cannot have two authorities. We are compiling a list of those holding the President hostage from throwing in the towel. I can tell you that they will be prosecuted if anything happens to Buhari.
“If they force him back and don’t allow him to resign and allow his family to take care of him, we shall make sure that they are prosecuted”.
He further claimed that the cabal should allow the President to do the needful, either by resigning if he is not fit to continue with his mandate or come back and take up his responsibilities.
The Daily Times recalls that the presidency on Monday stated that the protesters have the right to protest as long as it is peaceful. The Senior Special Assistant to the president on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, had said that, “ Those making the calls are exercising their rights in line with the constitution of this country. Of what use, or value is a democracy in which citizens cannot embark on peaceful protests? So we respect their right to convene or undertake peaceful protest”.
He however, stated that those calling for the resignation of the President are overstepping their boundaries, stressing that the President has complied with constitutional provisions having successfully transmitted power to Osinbajo, who has now been elevated as the Acting President.
But the Nigeria Police has explained why policemen dispersed protesters aat the Unity Fountain, Abuja.
The police, in a statement made available to The Daily Times on Tuesday, explained that policemen were forced to intervene on the grounds that some miscreants, hoodlums and other criminal elements had infiltrated the protesters.
The statement added that even though the police is aware of the constitutional rights of every citizen including “ Our Mumu Dondo group” to assemble and move freely, members of the force were forced to intervene in order to prevent breakdown of law, order and disturbance of public peace in the FCT.
The police also recalled that “Our-Mumu-Don-do Movement” had carried out their protest on Monday at the same venue and were accorded necessary police presence to safe guard public safety and public peace as provided for in sections 39, 40, and 41 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
But the police said that the same group who assembled at the same venue on Tuesday, allowed miscreants, hoodlums and other unruly individuals to infiltrate the protesters.
The police further claimed that the miscreants started blocking the major roads adjoining the Unity Fountain, obstructing traffic and preventing movements of other innocent citizens from going to their means of livelihood.
The police said, “ The police personnel intervened at the point that the concerned Nigerians Group lost control of the crowd and prevented miscreants, hoodlums and other criminal elements from hijacking the protest to cause mayhem and chaos”.
Silver Bird TV reporter narrates ordeal
In a related development, a reporter with Silverbird Television, Mr. Amadin Uyi, who was at the Unity Fountain, Abuja to cover the protest has narrated his ordeals in the hands of the policemen at the venue.
Uyi also told The Daily Times that on the arrival of the television crew at the Unity Fountain to cover the protest, the policemen in their bid to stop the protest, started throwing tear gas at them
He said the officers informed the protesters that they had “orders from above” to crack down on the protesters when they return to Unity Fountain today.
He also said that his Cameraman was badly injured when the police sighted him recording what was going on.
He said, “ About seven of the policemen approached my cameraman when they saw him recording the incident.
“They kicked him and gave him blow after blow and thereafter seized his camera”.
He also claimed that even after introducing himself as a journalist, the policemen went ahead to mercilessly descend on him.
He said, “When they started beating me despite identifying myself as a journalist, they saw my cameraman filming the whole scene from afar and they swooped on him too and severely injured him.”
Myke Uzendu and Francesca Iwambe, Abuja