….Senate to pass anti-hate speech, jungle justice bills with dispatch.
The anti-Buhari and pro-Buhari protests took a deeper crisis dimension yesterday as leader of the anti-Buhari group, Charles Oputa aka Charly Boy, narrowly escaped lynching by a mob made up of supporters of the president.
President Buhari has been away from the country for over 100 days and is in the United Kingdom for medical checks, a development that is sparking protest by some individuals in the country.
A coalition of civil society groups led by Charly Boy, operating under the aegis of #OurMumuDonDo demanded the resignation of the president over his long medical vacation in London.
But the Senate came out to warn that the president has not violated any law to warrant calls for his resignation and urged all protesters to stop heating up the polity.
The crux of the matter was that yesterday’s incident which led to the indefinite closure of the Wuse Market, with traders in the market locked out of their shops.
Trouble started when the anti-Buhari protesters, #Our Mumu Don Do group led by its leader, Charly Boy, took their protest to the market.
The anti-Buharists were confronted by the pro-Buhari protesters, leading to a free-for-all, with stones and all manner of objects flying from different directions like bullets.
An eyewitness who refused to mention his name told Journalists that prior to the chaos and disorder in the market, Charly Boy and his group were resisted at the main gate of the market on arrival by the leader of the market task force.
But an argument ensued between the two groups, culminating in the pro-Buharists swooping on Charly Boy and other co-protesters.
The mobs who were said to be chanting “Sai Baba, Sai Baba” allegedly attacked Charly Boy’s group with stones and sticks, saying that they have no right to bring their protest to the market.
A co-convener of “Resume or Resign” movement, Mr. Deji Adeyanju, however told journalists that it was not true that the group went to the market to protest.
Adeyanju explained that some of the leaders of the group went to the market to see one of their coordinators who owns a shop in the market and were attacked by hoodlums.
“Yes, our group was attacked by some hoodlums in the market. We only went there to see one of our coordinators and not for protest. Right now, some of our members are wounded and Charly Boy’s BMW bike was damaged by the hoodlum”, he said.
Another eye witness simply identified as Oludare who sustained some bruises on his face from the attack said he escaped death also because he begged the mob and also told them that he was not part of the anti-Buhari protesters.
“That was my face about an hour ago. I was tagged anti-Buhari by hoodlums who would have probably stoned me to death if I had not pleaded with them. Charly Boy did not only escape lynching, he was very favoured to have left Wuse Market alive. I know this because my eyes were on him till he left after taking several stone hits”, Oludare narrated.
As at the time of filing this report the market remained shut, while Police anti-riot truck was stationed there.
However, the head of corporate affairs, Abuja Market Management Limited (AMML), Innocent Amechina, told Journalists that the market was shut to forestall colossal damages.
“The market was shut down due to threat to life and properties following a free-for-all by a group of people who entered the market and were resisted by a counter group, leading to a clash. As responsible facility managers, we nipped the crisis in the bud”, he said
Amechina however promised that the market will be reopened as soon as peace and security return to the area.
Senate To Pass Anti-Hate Speech, Jungle Justice Bills With Dispatch
Meanwhile, in a bid to stop recourse to hate speeches, self-help or jungle justice that give rise to unnecessary tension in polity, Senate President Bukola Saraki said yesterday that the upper chamber will devout greater part of its remaining 22 months to enact laws that will check the dangerous developments in the country as soon as it resumes in September.
In a statement signed by his special adviser on media and publicity, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki disclosed that the Senate was prepared to give the Hate Speech Bill accelerated consideration when it is presented by the executive.
He said, “At this point in time, when people are heating up the political and social space with their utterances, the Hate Speech Bill will help to militate against verbal attacks or expressions against individuals or groups on the basis of ethnicity, religion, and even gender.
“This will help to send a clear message with accompanying punitive measures to those negative elements in our society that are fond of distasteful comments that hurt, offend and provoke retaliation”.
Saraki also stated that the Anti-Jungle Justice Bill (SB. 109), which is sponsored by Senator Dino Melaye (APC-Kogi) will also help to curtail, protect and prohibit Nigerians across the country from meting out extra-judicial justice to perceived offenders without recourse to statutory legal channels.
He added: “There have been many cases of extrajudicial executions across the nation. We all remember the “Aluu Four” incident, and several other notorious cases of phone and food thieves being set ablaze. We cannot have a situation where people feel that they can take the law into their hands.
“Therefore, we must put in place careful stopgaps and penal measures to protect the sanctity of our communities”.
The Senate President also stated that the Committee on Judiciary and the Rules and Business Committees of the Senate would work to ensure that the Anti-Jungle Justice Bill is quickly passed and sent to the House of Representatives for concurrence.