The attempt by protesters at the popular Wuse Market in Abuja to urge President Muhammadu Buhari to return to Nigeria or resign on Tuesday resulted in the breakout of an inter-tribal clash.
Early Tuesday, members of the movement, #ResumeOrResign, led by popular musician, Charles Oputa, popularly called Charly Boy, were attacked at the market by supporters of the ailing president.
The incident later resulted in the breakout of an intertribal clash in the market, which caused chaos and forced the police to close the market.
When PREMIUM TIMES visited, traders were made to vacate the market by security operatives and the entrance was heavily guarded by the Police.
The chaos however continued on the streets outside the market as people were seen hurling stones and other projectiles at one another, while others scampered for safety.
“What happened is that Charly boy, who is fighting for the return of the president, came here this morning with his people in three cars and two motorcycles,” one witness, Mohammed Lawal, told PREMIUM TIMES.
“He came to protest. When he got to the gate, the security men said he should not come in but he insisted and said he wanted to buy something in the market. The security men tried to stop him but he still entered.
“When he entered and began to speak against Buhari, ‘some Hausa people’ began to beat him but he managed to escape on one of the motorcycles,’’ he said.
He added that some hoodlums later took advantage of the opportunity and began to throw stones “at the Igbo people around the area”.
“The Igbo people also retaliated and one of them almost killed someone,” Mr. Mohammed said.
Mr. Oputa is ethnic Igbo.
PREMIUM TIMES reporters also witnessed Nigeria Security And Civil Defense Corps, NSCDC, officers trying to curtail the clashes.
The co-convener of the #ResumeorResign movement, Deji Adeyanju, said the attack on Charly Boy was completely unprovoked.
“This is the third in a series of attacks carried out against us using a combination of policemen and paid hoodlums. It is saddening that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari would rather commit scarce national resources to such underhand tactics than giving full disclosure regarding the health of the President.
“We reiterate commitment to remain resolute in demanding full disclosure regarding the state of health of the President. It is the right of the Nigerian people to know the true state of health of the man they voted into power and for whose healthcare they are paying,” Mr. Adeyanju said.
He said the groups would continue to remain law abiding in the face of provocation.
The FCT police spokesperson, Anjuguri Mamzah, told PREMIUM TIMES that the police have remained law-abiding in bringing the situation under control.
“To forestall further breakdown of law and order the market management has ordered the closure of the market,” he said. “A large contingent of policemen has been deployed to the market to provide security.”
Some traders have expressed hope that the major market would be reopened by tomorrow and normalcy returned.
President Buhari has spent about 100 days in the UK for an undisclosed ailment, a development that has continued to generate ripples in the polity despite the fact that Mr. Buhari has handed over the reins of governance to his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo.
The controversy has continued even with sporadic appearances by the president in the media.