Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
A group of Nigerians living in the United Kingdom (UK) under the umbrella of Nigerians in Diaspora Monitoring Group (NIDMG) wednesdayâ€Ž warned that â€˜sponsored protestâ€™ constitute a grave danger to Nigeriaâ€™s stability more than other ongoing existential threats.
The group gave the warning following an inter-ethnic clash involving northern and Igbo traders that broke out on Tuesday at Wuse market in Abuja when â€˜Our Mumu Don Doâ€™ movement, led by Nigerian musician, Charles Oputa, who has continued its protest against the continued absence of President Muhammadu Buhari who has been away on medical vacation for more than 100 days.
The clash which was promptly nipped in the bud by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corp (NSCDC) led to the closure of the market while six persons were equally feared dead.
The spokesperson of the group, Dr. Ibukun Ola, in an electronic statement sent to journalists in Abuja, said such protests were already stoking tension at home and disturbing the peace of those abroad for fear of breakdown of law and order in Nigeria.
According to him, â€œwe are concerned at the ethnic and religious coloration of reactions trailing the Wuse Market invasion since this can only further deepen animosity over what was originally a non-issue. While urging would- be- protesters of any cause to keep their activities within the public space to which they are entitled, we appeal to those who feel their space has been invaded to invite the relevant law enforcement agencies to intervene and not take the law into their own hands.â€
Ola added: â€œWe see the invasion of Wuse Market, which was ostensibly targeted at crippling economic activities there, as an attempt to replicate the economic sabotage usually deployed with the sit-at-home order of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), MASSOB and other secessionists in the South-East. It has no place in the nationâ€™s capital and must not be encouraged in any other part of the country.
â€œHaving watched with concern developments around the â€œill-conceivedâ€ protests over President Muhammadu Buhariâ€™s medical vacation, the protests under hashtags like #OurMumuDonDo, #ResumeOrResign, #RecoverAndReform and others are stoking tension at home in Nigeria while citizens who are not sufficiently attuned to the laws in the lands of their sojourn may unwittingly fall foul of same in their effort to replicate the aberration being mislabeled as freedom of expression in Nigeria.,â€ he said.
Ola stressed that, â€œeven in Nigeria where some people erroneously conclude there are no laws, the decision of the protesters to invade a trading space depicts a deficit of reasoning since businessmen in this facility bought and owned their stalls and would not accept or allow other people deprive them of their means of livelihood without repercussions. Handymen and truck pushers who rely on smooth operations at the market would similarly not condone any activity that would deprive them of their means of sustenance.