Chris Steven, Abuja
A group of Nigerians living overseas under the aegis of Nigerians In Diaspora Monitoring Group (NIDMG), on Wednesday condemned the alleged invasion of Wuse market, Abuja by those protesting against the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari in office for over 100 days.
They warned that the protests which were allegedly being sponsored by “vested interests”, constituted grave dangers to Nigeria’s stability more than other ongoing existential threats.
Ibukun Ola, spokesperson of NIDMG (United Kingdom Chapter), in an electronic statement sent to reporters in Abuja, said such protests were already stoking tension at home and disturbing the peace of those abroad for fear fear of breakdown of law and order in Nigeria.
He said, “We see the invasion of Wuse Market, which was ostensibly targeted at crippling economic activities there, as an attempt to replicate the economic sabotage usually deployed with the sit-at-home order of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), MASSOB and other secessionists in the South-East. It has no place in the nation’s capital and must not be encouraged in any other part of the country.
“We are concerned at the ethnic and religious coloration of reactions trailing the Wuse Market invasion since this can only further deepen animosity over what was originally a non-issue. While urging would be protesters of any cause to keep their activities within the public space to which they are entitled, we appeal to those who feel their space has been invaded to invite the relevant law enforcement agencies to intervene and not take the law into their own hands.”
According to him, having watched with concern the developments around the “ill-conceived” protests over President Muhammadu Buhari’s medical vacation, the protests under hashtags like #OurMumuDonDo, #ResumeOrResign, #RecoverAndReform and others are stoking tension at home in Nigeria while citizens who are not sufficiently attuned to the laws in the lands of their sojourn may unwittingly fall foul of same in their effort to replicate the aberration being mislabelled as freedom of expression in Nigeria.
The NIDMG said the warning became necessary following the ugly incident of Tuesday August 15, 2017 when one of leader of the protesters, Charles Chukwuemeka Oputa aka Charlie Boy, allegedly invaded Wuse Market in Abuja and was subsequently set upon by traders into whose space he had intruded.
Ola said, “Even in Nigeria where some people erroneously conclude there are no laws, the decision of the protesters to invade a trading space depicts a deficit of reasoning since businessmen in this facility bought and owned their stalls and would not accept allow other people deprive them of their means of livelihood without repercussions. Handymen and truck pushers who rely on smooth operations at the market would similarly not condone any activity that would deprive them of their means of sustenance.
“It is most unfortunate that Charlie Boy and his protesters validated earlier claims by security agencies that criminals have infiltrated the ranks of protesters to cause trouble. They have equally proven that there are sinister motives to the protests that have become confrontational. More worrisome is the level of aggression reportedly displayed by Charlie Boy when he forced his way into the market.
“As recounted by some interviewees on Oak TV, he further attempted to retrieve a firearm from his vehicle before it was destroyed by counter protesters at the market.
The NIDMG notes that there are no “mumu” or those who live Charlie Boy’s kind of life outside Nigeria that would take to the street to harass the peace of others simply because the leader of the country is sick and is taking time to recover without breaking the law.
“As can be seen in the Wuse Market scenario, those who resort to self help thinking they were protecting their turf would get arrested when violence breaks out. We urge the police and other security agencies not to pander to political correctness but to decisively prosecute those found to have breached the law.
“Besides discouraging trouble makers in Nigeria, it would stop our citizens from trespassing on private and business spaces abroad since the #OurMumuDonDo protesters are implementing and contemplating similar foolhardiness here in London and other world cities.
“To demonstrate how protests can be used to achieve positive results, the NIDMG should facilitate public marches to highlight the more pressing issues confronting Nigeria like Boko Haram’s terrorism, the plight of internally displaced persons (IDPs), killings by criminal elements pursuing secession in the south-east, growing cases of ritual killing, kidnap for ransom and baby factories in some part of the country.”