By Chibisi Ohakah, Abuja
vacation in the United Kingdom reached a dramatic point on Thursday with the staging of pro-Buhari protest in Abuja, four days after Concerned Nigerians group commenced its sit-out protest to demand the resigna- tion of President Buhari if he fails to resume within eight weeks.
Both groups have reportedly declared their readiness to con- tinue converging at the Unity Fountain arena for daily protests till further notice.
The pro-Buhari under the aegis of the Coalition For Good Governance and Change Initiative (CFGGCI) as well as Centre for Civil Society and Justice, converged at the Unity Fountain, Federal Capital Territory on Thursday to publicly declare support for the ailing president. Armed with several banners some of which read, “our President is recuperating, Nigeria is moving forward’, the system is working, no cause for alarm”, the group insists that the call for Buhari’s resignation was a need- less distraction.
However, speaking on behalf of the pro-Buhari protesters, one of the conveners, Nelson Ekujumi, said they staged to show the world that Nigerians are solidly behind President Buhari and his anti-corruption crusade.
Ekujimi described the anti-Bu- hari protesters as agents of dark- ness and sponsored elements by corrupt people in the country who are now fighting back to scuttle the anti-corruption fight.
The group expressed confidence in the leadership style of President Muhammadu Buhari, and urged Nigerians to disregard those parading themselves as a pro-democracy group. They also declared their readiness to continue its own version sit-out for 30 days.
However, the anti-Buhari protest which has operated under a popular theme: #ResumeOr- Resign has been protesting the ailing president’s continued absence at the Unity Fountain in Abuja since the beginning of the week. The protesters led by popular entertainer, Charly Boy Oputa with some notable Nollywood actors and members of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ group called on the National Assembly to invoke relevant sections of the Constitution and mandate the current Federal Executive Council, under the supervision of Mr. Osinbajo, to set up a medical team to ascertain Mr. Buhari’s health status.
However, the campaigners were visited with police brutality following a dramatic tear-gas and clamp down by anti-riot police on Tuesday, with the police authority reportedly claiming that hoodlums had infiltrated the group. But Mr. Oputa insists the group would not be deterred, despite the clampdown. Similarly, Nollywood actor, Jim Iyke also justified the group’s call for the president to return to the country or resign. He said the group would remain united in its cause, no matter what happens. “Enough is enough. It is a simple thing, our mantra is one, our decision is one,” he said.
Aisha Yesufu, a member of the group also argued that nothing was working in Nigeria with an acting president piloting the na- tion’s affairs. According to her, “when are we going to realise that this acting president thing is not working out, it’s really not working out?” she asked.
The President has been in the United Kingdom for over 90 days where he has been undergoing medical treatment. Governors and several top government officials have paid him visits in London, confirming that he is recuperating fast and would return as soon as his doctors give thevgo ahead.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Senate had declared that President Buhari’s over 90 days absence from office has not violated the Constitution. Senate spokes- man, Senator Alihu Sabi Abdullahi, cautioned the protesters “to stop heating up the polity with their unreasonable demands.”
He argued that President Buhari had complied with the provisions of the nation’s grundnorm, the Constitution, which stipulated that he must handover to the Vice President and duly inform the two chambers of the legislature about his medical vacation.
“The President has broken no law and therefore we do not see any justification for this diversion and noise making. We in the National Assembly are satisfied that there is no vacuum. The federal government is working. Acting President Yemi Osinbajo is providing the required leadership. So, there is no reason for the protests.
The group of protesters who had marched from the popular Unity Fountain, near Transorp Hilton, towards the Villa, with the promise to occupy the en- trance to the seat of government until the National Assembly or President Buhari himself does the needful, said the Nigerian constitution has been breached with the absence of the Buhari from office for over 90 days.
The protesters who went in groups, unleashed placards, some of which read: “Resume or Resign Nigerians say enough is enough”; “Buhari, Where are you?” “We Are Tired of Being Enslaved in Our Country,” “Our Mumu Don Do”; “Buhari Called For Impeachment When Yar’adua Was Sick, Now We Are Calling For Same.”
The protesters led by contro- versial musician, Charles Oputa aka ‘Charly Boy’ and the conve- ner Deji Adeyanju, told news- men that the National Assembly has failed Nigerians by refusing to probe the true status of Mr. Presidents health. They accused the leadership of the two cham- bers of having compromised their commissions and are cur- rently unable to impeach the President or draw the full weight of the Constitution
“90 days is too long for a president to be away from his country without any explanation to the people that voted him into office. If Mr. Buhari has become incapacitated, he should do the honorable thing and resign because he cannot continue to hold the country to ransom. We hereby demand that the National Assembly invoke Section 144 sub Section 4 of the Nigerian Constitution and direct the setting up of a medical panel in conjunction with the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo to ascertain whether the President is incapacitated,” they argued.