• Charlie Boy, others attacked at Abuja market
• Count Dankwambo out of protest –Northern youths
From Molly Kilete, Magnus Eze and Fred Ezeh, Abuja
pandemonium broke out at the Wuse market, Abuja, in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), yesterday, following attempt by popular musician and leader of ‘OurMumu-DonDo’ group, Charles Oputa, better known as Charlie Boy, and his allies to mobilise traders to join the protest against ailing President Muhammadu Buhari.
Charlie Boy and members of his entourage narrowly escaped being lynched by the angry mob that attacked them at the market.
Trouble started when Charlie Boy riding on a power bike, accompanied by two cars conveying some members of the ‘ResumeOrResign’ protesters, arrived the market entrance but were denied access by the market security guards.
An eye witness account said members of the anti-Buhari group had arrived the market as early as 9am, but remained outside until about 11am when they forced their way in.
The head of the market security task force, identified as Musa, who had reportedly directed that the group should not be allowed into the market, was said to have charged at the guards for dereliction of duty, saying, “why did you allow them in; you should have destroyed them and their cars at the gate.”
His utterance was said to have incited some youths, mainly from the north, who had congregated at the scene because of Charlie Boy’s presence, as they started vandalising the group’s vehicles.
They descended on members of the group; hurled stones at them before Charlie Boy and his group scampered for safety. One of the anti-Buhari protesters allegedly sustained serious injuries and was rushed to an undisclosed hospital where he was allegedly admitted in the intensive care unit.
From that point, angry northern youths hurled stones and other dangerous objects on people in the market with Igbo traders as their main target. Journalists, commuters and several others who rushed to the scene were also attacked.
The police detachment at the market was overwhelmed by the mob.
Traffic in and around the market was quickly diverted to to allow security officials access to and around the market, while traders and customers were ordered out of the market.
More security forces were quickly drafted to the market to contain the angry youths. After several hours of battle to disperse the crowd, the police, with the help of other security agencies shut down the market on the directive of FCT authorities.
Traders gathered in groups discussing the development, while customers who were not aware of the development were disappointed as they met the market under lock and key.
No lives were lost, but many people sustained injuries as the situation almost snowballed into a full-blown fight ethnic fight between Igbo traders and northerners in the market.
One of the members of the OurMumuDonDo group, Jide Cole, confirmed that they arrived the market as early as 9am even before many traders, adding that the market security denied them access. According to him, Musa told them “that market is not a protest ground.”
He debunked claims that Charlie Boy was attacked, but said their vehicles were destroyed before they managed to whisk him into safety.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Wuse Market Traders Association, Raphael Okorie, in an interview with Daily Sun at the market after the confusion, condemned the action of the anti-Buhari group.
“It was not a war between Igbo and Hausa or Muslim against Christians. It was a fracas between people who have different ideologies; they were people from all ethnic groups and religions who were on different sides. It was a shade of opinion of people who were for and against the programme that Charlie Boy was carrying out.
“The market is now peaceful and safe; we can assure you that everything is being done to make sure that the market is reopened immediately so that people can continue their businesses,” Okorie stated.
The Public Relations Officer of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Police Command, Anjuri Manzah, said the prompt intervention by police operatives averted what he described as a major clash between two opposing sides at Wuse market.
He said: “The police have brought the situation under control. To forestall further breakdown of law and order, the market management has ordered the closure of the market. Large contingent of policemen have been deployed to the market to provide security.”
Regardless, Co-convener, #ResumeOrResign Movement, Deji Adeyanju, has described yesterday’s attack on the group as disgraceful.
He said the attack will not stop the group and other Nigerians from asking vital questions on governance and the continued stay of President Buhari in London where he is currently receiving medical attention.
In a terse statement, Adeyanju narrated the experience of the group.
“This morning (yesterday) members of our movement -#ResumeOrResign – were attacked by known supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari, while on a visit to Wuse Market. The attack was spearheaded by a member of the pro-Buhari support group that meets at the Unity Fountain. This attack was completely unprovoked.”
He continued: “This is the third in a series of attacks carried out against us, using a combination of policemen and paid hoodlums. It is saddening that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari would rather commit scarce national resources to such underhand tactics than give full disclosure regarding the health of the president.
“We reiterate to remain resolute in demanding full disclosure regarding the state of health of the president. It is the right of the Nigerians to know the true state of health of the man they voted into power, and for whose healthcare they are paying.
“We also restate our commitment to remain law abiding in the face of such constant provocation. Our right to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly are constitutional rights that we will not allow to be abrogated.”
Meanwhile, youths under the auspices of Northern Youths Emancipation Vanguards (NYEV), said the linking of Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, with the sponsorship of the ongoing protest asking Buhari to either return or resign, was a political handicraft of some disgruntle elements.
It said the plot was a crude hatchet job meant to satisfy the whims and caprices of certain shadowy paymasters of the concocted and fictitious civil society organisation Centre for Truth and Justice (CTJ) and its affiliated organs.
National President of the group, David J. Joshua, at a news briefing in Abuja said: “Our attention has been drawn to a report in some media platforms that former Ondo State governor, Olusegun Mimiko and Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo were behind the protest against the Buhari led administration; and while we take it as myopic and laughable, efforts by some political bellyaching elements out to smear the image of the duo are categorically mischievous allegation in totality.
“This is one of the most irresponsible and cheap allegations ever made. Anywhere an allegation is made, the question of motive becomes pertinent. Now, is there anything that Dankwambo, or even Mimiko stand to benefit by sponsoring the so-called anti-Buhari protests? The answer is a resounding NO.
“Dankwambo is busy providing selfless governance to the good people of Gombe; and anyone in doubt as to how the man has totally transformed Gombe needs to do is to go to the state and see for one’s self. On many occasions, despite being in opposition party, Dankwambo has been lending his vast experience to the Buhari led administration in various committees.”
“If I were sponsor of the so-called CSO engaged in this sabre-rattling, I would ask for full refund of the money paid to them. It was too elementary an exercise, totally bereft of the slightest smarting of intellect.”
The writers should, by now, be ashamed of themselves because this is one falsehood lacking even in the most minimum modicum of decency and integrity.”
The group said although in the opposition PDP, Dankwambo had never been known to engage in the type of politics he accusers were desperately trying to attribute to him. It added that the Gombe State Governor would rather spend N300 million on the welfare of his people than waste it in a phantom exercise.
“It’s high time people realised we are in a democracy where one has right of choice and association. Throughout history, people protest against the best leaders anywhere and Heavens never fall. And it will further interest the group that one of the leading protesters, Deji Adeyenju, was fulminating against PDP in an interview he granted and it’s, therefore, daffy to link the same person with the party.
“Times are really hard in Nigeria. But it is not Dankwambo’s fault that joblessness has pushed these jesters to making blackmail a means of livelihood. They should engage themselves positively and creatively, and not allow some misguided politicians who have an axe to grind with Dankwambo to hire them two for a penny,” Joshua said.