Osun Polls: Nigerian police teargas, bar PDP protesters from Force Headquarters

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and other PDP leaders led a protest to INEC headquarters, Abuja
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and other PDP leaders led a protest to INEC headquarters, Abuja

A group of leaders and supporters of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) protesting the outcome of last month’s governorship election re-run in Osun State were on Friday attacked by security operatives in Abuja.

The operatives fired tear gas at the protesters in a bid to prevent the protesters from entering the Force Headquarters in Abuja.

A senator, Dino Melaye (PDP-Kogi), was manhandled in the process.

The group started their protests early Friday at the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Maitama district of Abuja.

Among the protesters were Senate President Bukola Saraki, PDP Chairman, Uche Secondus; Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal; Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo; Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku; former Jigawa State Governor, Sule Lamido; and Bayelsa East senator, Ben Murray-Bruce.

They demanded that INEC rescinds the return of Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and declare the candidate of the PDP, Ademola Adeleke, as the winner of the governorship election.

They also demand the removal of INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, from office.

“Police is an arm of the APC”, read the inscription on the white T-shirt worn by many of the protesters.
With their leaders huddled in a Toyota Dyna truck, the protesters thereafter marched to the Force Headquarters in Area 11, in Garki district.

The protesters accused INEC chairman, Mr Yakubu of complicity in alleged malpractices that marked the rerun poll.

Singing and chanting, they held placards with inscriptions such as: “Declare Adeleke Winner Now; INEC Chairman Must Go; Enough is Enough.”

The procession was closely watched by scores of police officers.

Mr Melaye, the convener of the protest, was among other PDP leaders in the truck waving and dancing to the blast of old protest music, “Nigeria Jagajaga” of Edrees Abdulkareem.

The protests caused a gridlock on the expressway along the Nigerian Ministry of Justice.

As they neared the Force Headquarters, the protesters met a barricade formed by security operatives. The officers then began to fire teargas to ward off the protesters.

Mr Melaye was physically restrained from gaining access into the Louis Edet House police headquarters.

After they were pushed back from the police headquarters, the protesters gathered at a nearby Area 11 Junction and were later addressed by Mr Secondus.

“The Nigerian Police in collaboration with INEC and the APC rigged the (Osun) election,” he stated.
“Our people were arrested nights before elections, harassed and detained. Voters were stopped not to carry out their civic responsibilities and duties. We want to ask the IG of Police what the constitution says about defending the common rights of the ordinary man”, the PDP chairman said.

“Who is the IG defending? Is he defending the desires and orders of the president which is against the Constitution? We call on him today that he should stand out to defend Nigeria and defend the ordinary people…

“Buhari is not God. He is not the God of Nigeria. The Inspector-General of Police is not the God of Nigeria. How many people can they kill? How many people can they brutalise? How many people can they teargas?

“We can see our senators have been teargassed, our governors are being manhandled. Is this what the APC government has provided for Nigeria? Nigerians are dying everyday, Nigerians are hungry, people are dying of hunger.

“They are not addressing it, rather they want to teargas and brutalise. They are killing Nigerians who voted for them. But I want to tell them that enough is enough. As long as the God of Nigeria lives, as long as God Almighty lives, they would leave government come May 29, 2019.

“Nigerians will vote them out in February, they would vote them out whether they like it or not.
“We have been told they want to teargas us at our convention. Let the international community know there is no more democracy in Nigeria. What we have here is a military government headed by Buhari.

“They want to kill the senate president, they want to kill the speaker, they also want to kill our governors for them to lead. You cannot fool the people all the time.

“The INEC and security agencies are looking for crises in our country, enough is enough. This peaceful demonstration is to let the world know that we are firm and we are committed to rescue our country from the hand of dictatorship.”

Mr Melaye brought the protest to a close as he introduced the governor of Taraba State, Mr Ishaku, and also a presidential aspirant and governor of Gombe, Mr Dankwambo.

The party leaders said they were heading to Port Harcourt for the PDP National Convention holding Saturday and Sunday.

The Osun State governorship election held on September 22 but was declared inconclusive because the margin between the candidate of the PDP, Mr Adeleke, who polled the highest number of votes, and Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who came second was inferior (353 votes) to the number of cancelled votes in seven polling units (3,498 votes).

After the rerun in the seven units on September 27, Mr Oyetola overtook Mr Adeleke by 462 votes and was declared governor-elect, although several local and international observers reported anomalies in some of the units.

INEC on Thursday presented Mr Oyetola the certificate of return and Mr Adeleke has filed a petition before the election tribunal set up by the Judiciary.

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