Nigerians, mostly youths, on Saturday, held peaceful processions and rallies in some states of the federation to mark this year’s Democracy Day.
However, normal activities went on in some states just as residents in other states stayed indoors to commemorate the day. Some leaders across the country also used the occasion to send their goodwill messages to the citizenry.
- NAF air strikes kill wedding guests in Niger
- APC building a stronger nation, says Kwara gov as thousands defect
Markets, shops shut as Yoruba nation agitators, others join protests in Ogun
In Ogun State, some Yoruba nation agitators and youths yesterday joined June 12 protesters in Abeokuta, Ijebu-Ode and other parts of the state.
Our correspondent observed a handful of protesters armed with #BuhariMustGo and #YorubaNation placards on the streets of Abeokuta.
However, major markets and shops were shut as traders and residents stayed back home for the fear of backlash.
A joint security team also embarked on a show of force around the state capital to curtail the activities of the protesters.
Activists, students hold peaceful rally, lecture in Osogbo
Major streets were deserted in Osogbo, Osun State capital, yesterday as residents stayed at home for fear of attack by some individuals calling for Nigeria’s break up to pave way for the Yoruba nation.
Policemen were seen at strategic locations monitoring the procession to prevent hoodlums from hijacking the rally.
Shops and business centres were shut and major roads that were often very busy were almost empty as only a few vehicles were seen on the roads.
After the rally, activists and students converged on an event centre for the Democracy Day lecture.
The pioneer President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Taiwo Hassan Sunmonu, who was the chairman of the occasion highlighted the sacrifices of late Moshood Kashimawo Abiola and lauded President Buhari for recognising June 12 as Democracy Day.
Niger bans procession
The Niger State government banned procession in the state and called on the people to use the period to reflect on their roles in peacebuilding, due diligence, and good governance for sustainable development and virile economy in the state.
The government in a Democracy Day message by the Secretary to the Government of Niger State (SSG), Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, commended the people for their support for the programmes and policies of the present administration in the state.
According to the SSG, “the decision to ban all forms of processions was as a result of the security situation in the state.
No protests in Benue, Bayelsa
In Benue and Bayelsa states, there were no protests as activities moved on normally.
Our correspondent reports that major towns of the state including Makurdi, Gboko and Otukpo remained calm and devoid of threats.
Normal business activities also went on in Yenagoa as resident shunned the June 12 protest against President Muhamadu Buhari’s administration.
The government in its message advised the youths in the state to always venture into meaningful activities that will better their tomorrow and foster a better society.
Protest in Edo amid tight security
In Edo, civil society groups, students and other concerned citizens yesterday staged a peaceful protest in Benin City amid tight security to mark June 12.
A combined team of security operatives who were more in number than the protesters were at the Museum ground, the take-off venue of the protest, to forestall breakdown of law and order.
Police arrest 3 journalists, human rights lawyer
In Calabar, Cross River State, men of the Operation Puff Adder of the Nigeria Police Force arrested three journalists and a leading human rights lawyer, James Ibor, for carrying placards demanding the release of freedom fighters.
Agba Jalingo, publisher of Cross River Watch, an online newspaper; the News Editor, Jonathan Ugbal, and another yet-to-be-named person were picked up in front of the office of the outfit near the popular Rabana Junction in Calabar.
The state governor, Prof Ben Ayade, had earlier warned that he would not tolerate any form of protest or procession today June 12 otherwise such would be met with force.
When journalists called the commissioner of police in the state, Sikiru Kayode Akande, he said he would speak later on the matter.
A former attorney-general and Commissioner for justice in the state who is counsel to the four rights campaigners, Barrister Attah Ochinke, said, “I can confirm that the four comrades have been granted bail and released from Puff Adder custody.”
Police, ‘Area boys’ disrupt protest in Lagos
Despite massive police deployment, on June 12 protesters in Lagos occupied the Gani Fawehinmi Park at Ojota Lagos amidst tension around the state.
Daily Trust on Sunday reports that the police had taken over the venue early in the morning to prevent the protest.
Even at that, the protesters singing and carrying placards with different inscriptions began to gather in number for the protest against bad governance.
Daily Trust on Sunday reports that things later went sour when hoodlums took over the protest ground.
Some journalists were also manhandled while the memory card of a photojournalist was seized by the police.
Makinde joined protesters in Ibadan
The Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Seyi Makinde on Saturday joined ‘Buhari Must Go’ protest in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital as part of the June 12 planned nationwide protest.
Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that the protesters had earlier stormed his Bodija residence at a time he was going out but the governor joined them to move around the city.
Makinde who addressed the jubilant youths with a megaphone sat down on the roof of his car.
One of the protesters, Tayo Ogunwale, told reporters that Nigerians had never experienced the current situation before now.
Streets deserted in Ondo
Major streets in Akure, the Ondo state capital were yesterday deserted and business activities paralysed as traders and residents stayed indoors for fear of crisis that may arise from the June 12 protest.
Youths in their numbers moved around the state capital in a peaceful protest.
CSOs defy govt order, stage protest in Rivers
Members of the civil society organizations on Saturday defied the Rivers State Police Command order banning protest in the state and carried out a peaceful protest in Port Harcourt.
Some members of the groups had gathered at the pressure park located at the Aba Port Harcourt road in the early hours of yesterday to join other youths across the state to decry the high level of insecurity and hardship ravaging the country.
The group was led by the chairman of the Rivers State Civil Society organization, Mr Enefaa Georgewill.
Anti-riot police officers had early in the morning taken over the pressure park where the group was to address a rally.
One of the protesters, Johnbull Okoro told our reporter that Nigerians are worried over the heightened insecurity, high inflation rate and general hardship across the country.
He called on the federal government to improve the security situation across the country and reduce the high inflation rate which has affected the prices of goods and services.
PDP condemns clampdown on peaceful protesters
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday condemned the alleged clampdown of peaceful protesters by security agents.
The party, in a statement by its spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan, also described the clampdown on citizens on Democracy Day as “a sacrilegious demonstration of APC’s aversion to democracy as well as its barefaced repugnance towards Nigerians, particularly in their demands for their rights.”
“It is awkward that the APC and President Buhari, who were allowed their freedom when they protested in 2014, would turn around to subject Nigerians to actions of inhumanity including the use of firearms against the people, as being witnessed today.”
FG has not fulfilled its promises – Abiola Family
The family of the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993, Presidential election, late Chief MKO Abiola, Saturday said the federal government has not fulfilled its promises made to the family.
The Secretary of the family, Engineer Rahaman Abiola, disclosed this in an interview with journalists when a delegation of the Ogun State government, led by the deputy governor, Mrs Noimot Salako-Oyedele, visited the Abeokuta family house of Abiola to celebrate the June 12 democracy day.
Abiola was believed to have won the June 12 election which was adjudged the freest and fairest election in the history of the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari had moved the country’s democracy day celebration from May 29 to June 12 to honour Abiola, the hero of Nigeria’s democracy.
But, Rahaman Abiola declared that since the declaration by Buhari, the family is yet to benefit anything from the federal government.
Meanwhile, Governor Dapo Abiodun has called on those calling for the disintegration of Nigeria to shelve the idea and embrace unity in the spirit of June 12.
The governor who stated this at an event organised by the state government to mark the celebration of democracy day, said “MKO Abiola and his mandate should serve as a reminder to all of us that we are stronger together as a nation.
‘Dialogue among Nigerians key’
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has congratulated Nigerians for marking 22 years of uninterrupted democracy.
The Speaker in a statement by his media aide, Lanre Lasisi, said since the return of democratic governance in 1999, Nigeria has witnessed progress and development in terms of physical infrastructure and freedom of choice and expression, which are part of the key pillars of democracy.
Gbajabiamila expressed delight that citizens have been giving their democratic leaders support for the past two decades, calling for more support and cooperation.
He noted that dialogue remains key in resolving all democratic bottlenecks, calling for more of such in our body polity and among the citizens.
By Itodo Daniel Sule (Abuja), Peter Moses (Abeokuta), Hameed Oyegbade (Osogbo), Romoke W. Ahmad (Minna), Hope Abah Emmanuel (Makurdi), Bassey Willie (Yenagoa), Usman A. Bello (Benin), Eyo Charles (Calabar), Christiana Alabi, Abdullateef Aliyu (Lagos), Bola Ojuola (Akure), Jeremiah Oke (Ibadan) & Victor Edozie (Port Harcourt)