4 pm: October 5, 2018,
In a move unprecedented in the history of Nigeria, leaders of the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) have staged a protest march against the outcome of the last gubernatorial election held in Osun State, which they consider, rigged.
Reports coming in from Abuja, state that the protest marchers were met by teargas and gunshots, fired by the Nigeria Police, as the protesters arrived the police headquarters, in continuation of their protest, after their call at the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The protesters included a lineup of the top hierarchy of the PDP, including serving senators and governor. Among them are Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and the PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus.
Others are, Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, Senator Dino Melaye, Sule Lasisi and a host of others. They were led by their party chairman, Uche Secondus.
A furious Senator Murray-Bruce exploded: “I have just been teargassed by the Nigeria Police after protesting at INEC’s office. Gunshots have been fired. This was and still is a peaceful protest. How can I be treated like this in a country I have fought for and invested in? This is madness, I came with words and they answered with bullets.”
The police has issued a statement describing in part, the arrival of the protesters at its headquarters, as an attack by “hoodlums”, led by the lawmakers.
Speaking through its Force PRO, Mr. Jimoh Moshood, the police said it was inviting “Senator Bukola Saraki, Senator Dino Melaye and Senator Ben Bruce who were captured on camera, to have been involved in the disturbance of public peace and public safety, unlawful blockade of Shehu Shagari Way for several hours, preventing motorists, road users and other members of the public from having access and passage on the highway…”
The police also accused the protesters of launching “violent attack on policemen posted to ensure security of the Force Headquarters, pushing and hitting the policemen, to forcefully enter the Force Headquarters to cause damage to police equipment and government property. The distinguished senators are thus summoned by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to report at the Force headquarters on Monday the 8th of October, 2018.
Responding, the Senate President described the police statement as “laughable”. Speaking through his media aide, Yusuph Laniyonu, Saraki declared, “After carefully reading the police statement, one cannot but describe the claims made in it as laughable, crude and another low point in the posture of the police against the opposition in the country.” The protest was an exercise within their constitutional rights of assembly expression and movement, as citizens, to stage a peaceful procession.
Citing the police statement, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce queried, “But how can they know my intention? Are they mind readers? Why would I destroy police property?”
- FLASHBACK TO NOVEMBER 19, 2014: Mohammadu Buhari, Odigie Oyegun and other APC leaders, in protest, accusing INEC of working with President Goodluck Jonathan, to rig the 2015 elections that were yet to hold.