HUNDREDS of Nigerians, under the aegis of Coalition of Civil Society Organisations, on Monday, protested against the prolonged absence of President Muhammadu Buhari from the country.The protesters, who converged under the platform of the Civil Society Coalition and the “Our Mumu Don Do” advocacy groups, were led on the street protest by maverick musician, Charles Oputa (aka Charly Boy).The protesters stormed the streets of Abuja and demanded that the president either resigned or returned to the country.The groups defied the early morning rain and converged on the Unity Fountain Close to the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, from where they marched on the Shehu Shagari Way, towards the gate of the Presidential Villa.Charly Boy and a former Director of New Media at the national headquarters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Deji Adeyanju, addressed the crowd of protesters, saying that Buhari’s absence in more than 90 days was unacceptable.According to them, the president’s absence was rather enriching few individuals against the collective interest of the country.They also said only a few persons who saw themselves as cabal in the Aso Villa were profiting from the president’s absence at the expense of the larger Nigerian society.The protesters stated that the president’s ill health had been stage-managed by his handlers who were expected to tell the truth.Adeyanju said the handlers of President Buhari must tell the truth about his health, adding that if the president could not continue, he should resign to allow Osinbajo take over the ship of governance.“The president cannot continue to remain in London infinitum and Osinbajo cannot continue infinitum as acting president.“They are holding the country to ransom, it is not by force to remain a president; it is time to invoke Section 144 of the constitution,” he said.Charly Boy said he supported the protest to demand that the right things be done, adding that he was concerned for the future of the younger generation which, he said, was bleak due to the way politicians were handling the country.
He added that Nigerian youths had the responsibility to demand accountability and good leadership as well as development of the country.The group was, however, unable to deliver their protest letter to Aso Rock, as security operatives blocked the way to the Villa.The protests held simultaneously in Nigeria and the Abuja House in London.It will be recalled that President Buhari had, since May 7, left the country for medical check-up in London, while he wrote the National Assembly that he would return only when his doctors certified him fit..Reacting, the Presidency said while the protesters were exercising their rights in a democracy, the president had not violated the constitution.Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, told State House correspondents on Monday that those who were asking the president to resign should do more research on the provisions of the law.He affirmed that Buhari properly handed over power for Acting President Osinbajo who, he said, was carrying out his responsibilities to the delight of the president.“They are exercising their rights in line with the constitution of this country.“Of what use or value is a democracy in which citizens cannot embark on peaceful protests.“So, we respect their right to convene or undertake peaceful protest.“On the second issue whether the president should resign or disclose or whatever, I think they are stepping outside the laws of this country.“Anyone conversant with the constitution of this country will have noticed or seen that Mr President has complied 100 per cent with the requirements of the constitution of this country.“He has handed over power to the vice president, relying on the constitution and the vice president is carrying out with the affairs of this country.
“He is undertaking activities of government in line with the constitution in a way that the president himself has given words of commendation.“So, the president has not breached any law. What he has done is perfectly in line with the constitution of this country and if people are looking for things to say, I think they should do their research very well,” he said.In a statement released later, the presidential aide assured that government was focused and would not be distracted.He pointed out that there was no vacuum in governance, even with Buhari’s absence.
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