Charly Boy, Dele Momodu, others protest bad leadership

THE SUN Newspaper James Ojo

Prominent actors, singers and showbiz journalists yesterday clashed with members of security operatives while trying to gain entrance to the National Assembly complex in Abuja.

The group, known as Enough is Enough Nigeria, consisted of youths from all walks of life. They were protesting the absence of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, lack of implementation of the Justice Uwais committee report on electoral reform, poor power supply and they wanted Acting President Goodluck Jonathan to be declared as the substantive president.

The group, comprising notable Nigerian celebrities including publisher of Ovation magazine, Dele Momodu, Charles Oputa (Charley Boy), Omotola Jolade-Ekeinde, Mama Gee, and Six Foot Plus, lamented the poor reception they received as, according to them, they had already sent prior communication to the management of the National Assembly, notifying them of their peaceful protest to Nigerian leaders.

Chanting anti-government songs and carrying placards with inscriptions that read: "We cry with Jos; “the killings must stop!"; "We want peace now"; "We want free and fair elections in this country"; and "Give us light" among others, they spent over two hours standing at the gates of the National Assembly.

They had arrived Eagle Square at about 11 a.m., but were barricaded on their way to the National Assembly complex by security operatives, who refused them entry into the complex to hand their demands to the leadership of the National Assembly.

The protesters consequently shunned the chairman of the House Committee on Youths and Social Development, Hon. Dipo Oyedekun, who came to address them. They insisted that either the president of the Senate or the speaker of the House of Representatives should come and talk to them.

They were shouting at Oyedekun, "Let him go! We don't want him. It is not a youth matter. Please go."

Speaking during the protest rally, Mr. Dele Momodu described the situation as unfortunate where "Nigerians can be stopped to go inside National Assembly, the home of the constitution.

"Even after the dark years of military rule, a decade of democracy has now convinced us that if care is not taken, new oppressors are always waiting in the wings, eager to replace the old ones. Our civilian government has taken us for granted too often over the last eleven years, over-promising and under-delivering."

Also speaking, a popular Nollywood actress, Omotola Jolade-Ekeinde, said the group would do everything to ensure Nigerians vote most of the politicians out in 2011, stressing that if they were elected into office then they have to be accountable to the people.

She said the youths are cursed with a leadership that sorely lacks integrity, patriotism, passion, good faith and compassion, adding they are leaders that would rather feed their bellies with ego rather than solve problems.

"They are ruining our future, they are set to hand over to us a destroyed country and a failed state, and we say no to that. We have had enough. And enough is truly enough," Jolade-Ekeinde fumed.

In a letter addressed to Senate president David Mark, the group said the recent crisis in Jos makes it clear that the Nigerian state is incapable of securing the lives and limbs of Nigerians.

"How can we have a government and security agencies and people can just go in the dead of the night and slaughter hundreds of women and children? This is in addition to a litany of unsolved murders and wanton kidnappings."

One of the coordinators of the group, Mr Chude Jideowu, while speaking to journalists, said, "I am surprised; let me say I am totally shocked that our leaders could be telling lies. We sent letters to both the police and the Sergeant at Arms, Colonel Okere, signed by the chairman of our Board of Trustees, and he (Okere) called me to confirm that he received our letter. He asked for the nature of the protest, and I told him. He said it was okay as long as we were not going to be violent, and now they are telling us that they were not informed".

On their mission to the National Assembly, he said, "We are worried by the recent killings in Jos where innocent Nigerians were murdered. It could be me or anybody else. Look at the present situation in the country, and we gave them assurance that we were going to be peaceful."

But one of the security personnel at the scene of the protest, Mr. Wilson Inalegwu, an Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of operations in the Federal Capital Territory, said the protesters were denied access into the National Assembly because no information was received by the police on the rally.

The Sergeant at Arms of the National Assembly, Col Emmanuel Okere (rtd), had earlier met the group at the first entrance to the complex to receive their message but was not given any attention by the protesters who wanted to know whether he was representing the leadership of the National Assembly that they insisted on seeing or a competent representative.

After a long time of waiting outside the gates, the group announced its plans to stage a comeback at a later date, and implored Nigerians to visit for more on its activities.

What would have resulted in a violent clash between the security men and the protesters was however averted when the rampaging youths forced their way through the first gate of the National Assembly, after being held outside for about two hours by heavily armed and stern looking regular and anti-riot policemen, as well as men of the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) from the Police Force Headquarters, Abuja.

A detachment of more armed policemen were later drafted to the second gate to prevent them from breaking through and gaining entrance.


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