• Supporters insist Tinubu didn’t steal mandate, warn against spirit of June 12
From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
A pro-Bola Tinubu protest, yesterday, in Abuja, turned violent over breach of monetary settlement by organisers to hired protesters.
Organised under the aegis of The Natives to counter calls for the cancellation of the presidential polls and, some participants of the protest prior to its commencement unleashed violence on fellow protesters, passersby and motorists for over one hour.
An eyewitness said organisers had failed to meet their own term to protesters, thus sparking anger and counter-protest s.
“Before the protesters hit the road, few of them, armed with daggers, broken bottles, cudgels, sticks and other weapons went gaga, attacked fellow protesters, smashing burnets of cars, disruptingd vehicular movements forcing most of the cars to drive against traffic. The attackers disrupted what was meant to be a peaceful protest for about an hour forcing most road users to scamper into safety. They complained that organisers of the protest had angered them by failing to settle agreed financial entitlements prior to the commencement of the protest.”
The witness said it took the intervention of security agents and repeated appeals from the conveners to calm the violent protesters, but that was after some damage had ben done to vehicles plying that route.
The protest, which however, commenced after financial issues were settled crippled activities in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
The protesters who stormed the FCT in over 100 buses vowed to resist any attempt to constitute an Interim National Government (ING).
They warned leaders of opposition parties, their candidates and supporters against pushing for an interim government.
They cautioned that they would not settle for any other thing other than the inauguration of president-elect and the APC candidate, Bola Tinubu on May 29.
Speaking to newsmen before the protesters headed to the national headquarters of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to pass vote of confidence in its Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, leader of the group, Smart Edwards, said Tinubu did not steal anyone’s mandate and the call for an interim government was misplaced.
He appealed to the international community and Nigerians to allow democracy to grow by supporting the president-elect.
“It was either that the opposition parties did not network well with the people and Nigerians or their members did anti-party against them. Today we have witnessed PDP suspending its National Chairman, the man who campaigned for the party, that’s also democracy. It is our turn, The Natives of Nigeria to see a better Nigeria, it is our turn to see a working Nigeria, our turn to see a democracy that works, our turn to advance the country as patriots.
“Today, we are declaring absolutely that no mandate was stolen. INEC performed creditably well and the election was free and fair. The election saw NNPP won election in Kano State, APC, though challenging the outcome, has decided to go to court, that’s democracy. PDP won election in Rivers, Enugu, Taraba, Delta, Plateau states and others, and the APC candidate in Plateau has congratulated the winner, his party may chose to proceed to court, that’s democracy.
“In Benue, the APC has a Rev Father who won election overwhelmingly against the incumbent, that is democracy. We saw Peter Obi won election in Lagos State against the landlord, that’s democracy. We saw Labour Party win election in FCT Abuja, that is democracy. We saw an Okada man win election in Kaduna State, that is democracy. We saw a woman almost win election in Adamawa, but was declared inconclusive, that is democracy.
“Those calling for interim government are jokers because when Shonekan was appointed in the past the people rejected it. Africa is base for democracy is Nigeria. We have Goodluck Jonathan who is a symbol of democracy, we had late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, he was a symbol of democracy, we have General Gowon who is also a symbol of democracy. Other nations in Africa are learning from Nigeria. So, what I am saying is that the Natives of Nigeria are of all tribes and colouration, it is impossible for anybody to attempt an interim government. We will resist it. President Muhammadu Buhari has spoken clearly and that is why we came out today in solidarity of what he said that he will handover to Tinubu,” he said.
On call for the removal of INEC chairman, Edward said: “Yakubu is not going anywhere. This same man conducted the election where NNPP won, LP won, PDP also won in some states. We will be marching to INEC headquarters to tell the commission that no mandate was stole. Asiwaju won the election and it remained so. Only the tribunal and Supreme Court can change the decision of INEC.
“The spirit of June 12 is upon us, by June 12 this year it will be 30 years. The same military that truncated democracy that time in Agbada led by President Buhari has recognised this election. We believe that MKO Abiola’s soul will rest in peace the day Bola Tinubu takes over from President Buhari. I am also appealing, in the name of the Almighty God, to all Nigerians to please give peace a chance. We cannot continue to be protesting on the streets every day.
“I appeal let us balance our emotions with progressiveness. Let us banish bigotry wherever it is find, whether in the East, West, South or North, let us work together, and I also call on all parties to sheath their swords and proceed to courts if they are still aggrieved or allow it to be.
“We are telling the opposition parties and their supporters that in the National Assembly we are seeing six different party who won elections and will form the 10th Assembly, that is democracy. I tell you, there are Senators who lost their seats, their are governors who lost election. What we are saying is that the international community should ensure that Nigeria which is their base point to Africa and the world should be supported to grow its democracy. We are calling on the opposition, and want to particularly correct the erroneous view of Peter Obi’s running mate Datti Ahmed that there is no President-elect.”
Meanwhile, another group of protesters, under the auspices of All Progressives Congress (APC) Support Groups converged about a kilometer away from Unity Fountain Abuja, and appealed to Nigerian, particularly the opposition to stop overheating the polity over the emergence of Tinubu as President-elect.
The group, which stormed the venue in about 50 buses stressed the need to accept the choice of Nigerians in good faith.
Spokesman for one of the groups, Tosin Adeyanju, said as concerned patriots, the solidarity rally would continue until the president-elect is sworn-in, and urged Nigerians not to listen to enemies of democracy.