An opposition supporter died Saturday as thousands clashed with police in an unauthorised rally in Guinée-Bissau, hospital sources and the victim’s family said.
Protesters staged the rally to demand a delay to a November 24 presidential election in order to allow an overhaul of the electoral register to limit potential voter fraud.
Demba Balde, 48, was in the offices of the opposition Party for Social Renovation (PRS), when “a cordon of police armed with clubs and grenade launchers prevented us from going out to join our friends in the street,” the victim’s brother Alimo Balde told AFP.
“There were scuffles and Demba was arrested by four police officers who beat him and sprayed him with (tear) gas. He fell, bloodied, and was struggling to breathe. We tried to bring him round but sadly he passed away before arrival at the hospital,” Alimo Balde said.
Several other people were injured when police fired tear gas to disperse marchers, an AFP correspondent reported.
The impoverished West African state’s Supreme Court said two weeks ago it had approved 12 candidates to contest the poll, including incumbent Jose Mario Vaz, who intends to stand again as an independent candidate.
Several candidates saw the court reject their bid to stand rejected but the international community has stated the electoral calendar should be respected.
Vaz, 62, became president in 2014 after elections billed as a new start for a country that had known only coups and turmoil since the end of Portuguese rule in 1974.
“For those of you who have gone outside to Abuja to say that people from outside should go and invade Edo, to come and seize our House of Assembly, we are waiting for you,” he said.
The stern looking Obaseki regretted why some politicians would want to tense the atmosphere of the state.
He recalled that Kogi and Bayelsa elections coming up in November have not been as tensed as Edo, stressing that his administration Is not perturbed at all owing to the people’s support it enjoys.
Speaking further, the governor decried a situation whereby some people that joined in the democratic struggles for the building of the All Progressives Congress in the state would renege.
“This struggle started 12 years ago in this town. The struggle has not ended, the struggle has just entered gear 2. For those of you who are old enough, what we are going through today, we went through 10 years ago.
“The same thing, nothing has changed. It’s just unfortunate that some people who were with us when we started that struggle, today we do not know what has happened to them. But it is a struggle we will win because it is a struggle that says that the people must lead.
“Democracy is about the people. And so whatever we are doing as a government is for you because we have not started, this is just the beginning. All the plans that we have in place by the grace of God will come to fruition,” he said.
President Muhammadu Buhari has arrived Kano State for the presidential rally of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Ahead of his arrival, residents of the state and APC supporters had converged at the Sani Abacha Stadium in the state.
With security beefed up before the Commander-in-Chief’s visit, the State’s Commissioner of Information, Mr Mohammed Garba, said the government and people of the state are ready to receive the President.
Tweets by Bashir Ahmad, a personal aide to Buhari on New Media, affirmed that the President has arrived Kano as scheduled.
There are also plans to have the President Buhari commission some projects executed by the Governor Abdullahi Ganduje’s administration pending the President’s schedule.
“It depends on the schedule of Mr President. I want to assure you that we are indeed prepared to receive Mr President.
“As you can see, we have worked round the clock. We have quite a number of projects which if time allows, we will convince Mr President to see some of them that have been executed by the Kano State Governor,” Mr Mohammed Garba said on Thursday.
The presidential election is less than three weeks from now, President Buhari would be looking to win the hearts of residents in Kano which is considered the state with the second highest number of registered voters in the country.
Below are other photos from the Sani Abacha Stadium where a crowd is awaiting the President’s arrival.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has suspended its presidential campaign in Benue State in protest of the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.
The Party’s Chairman, Uche Secondus, confirmed this in a statement issued by him on Friday.
According to him, the action of the president represents a constitutional breach and a direct attack on the democracy of the nation.
“The basis for this election is the democracy itself. When democracy comes under this kind of virulent attack, then the election itself becomes superfluous,” he said.
Secondus, therefore, stated that the suspension of the party’s campaign activities will for now, last for the next 72 hours, in hopes that the President reverses his decision concerning the CJN.
“In the first instance, we are suspending our campaign for 72 hours. It is our hope that President Buhari will listen to the voice of all lovers of democracy the world over, and restore democracy in Nigeria immediately and without qualifications.
“At the moment, the President has effectively suspended the constitution under whose basis the elections are being contested,” the statement read in part.
According to him, the Police barricaded the area, preventing them from carrying out their activities, despite the party acquiring permission from them as well the Department of State Services (DSS).
“We wrote the Jigawa State Police command that we were going to have the zonal rally today in Gumel, they gave us their consent that they are aware and just this morning, the State Commissioner of Police called the Chairman of our campaign committee telling him that there is a likelihood that hoodlums will infiltrate our gathering, which is not normal,” Ibrahim said.
“I am from this town, I have been in the PDP for the last 20 years and we always hold political gatherings on Wednesdays (market days), I don’t think that the Commissioner of Police who just came to Jigawa yesterday will be telling us what to do in Gumel.”
The state Commissioner of Police Bala Zama Sench, however, told Channels Television that the party did not state the exact location where it had planned to hold the rally.
According to the CP, holding the rally close to a market could disrupt traffic and movement of people, hence the need to ensure that another more convenient location was chosen.
He said, “You will realize that in their letter, they have not said this is the location where the rally will take place in Gumel, they did not indicate until late at night.
“I called the area commander and we were discussing about the strategy to ensure that they hold a peaceful flag off of their campaign in Gumel, so he now told me that the location where they are going to hold the rally is just by the market and that there is no way they can hold such a rally without disrupting traffic and movement of people and there would be a likelihood that there will be breach of peace and I said yes, I believe that the organisers are supposed to know that you cant have a campaign just by the market.
“You have to look for a place that is convenient for everybody.”
Scores of people were hurt in a grenade blast at new Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s first mass rally in the capital that sent crowds fleeing in panic.
Abiy had just wrapped up his speech in the heart of Addis Ababa before tens of thousands of people when the explosion went off, sending droves of supporters towards the stage as the prime minister left hurriedly, an AFP correspondent said.
In an address broadcast afterwards on state television, Abiy said the blast was orchestrated by groups who wanted to undermine the rally but did not name them.
“The people who did this are anti-peace forces. You need to stop doing this. You weren’t successful in the past and you won’t be successful in the future.”
He said several people had been killed, but his chief of staff Fitsum Arega later said on Twitter that there were no deaths.
“As of now, based on reports from police and hospitals, 83 people are injured. Of the 83 injured, six are in critical condition. No death so far has been reported,” Arega said.
“Some whose heart is filled with hate attempted a grenade attack,” he added, vowing that the perpetrators will be brought to justice.
The AFP correspondent said the blast happened stage right from Abiy and sent up a small puff of black smoke.
More than 100 people then stormed the stage, hurling various objects at police, shouting: “Down, down Woyane,” and “Woyane thief”, using a pejorative term for the government, the AFP correspondent said.
Police later used tear gas to clear the area, while an AFP photographer saw two men and two women taken into custody on suspicion of being involved with the blast.
The rally in the central Meskel Square was Abiy’s first public speech in the capital since he took office in April, although he has made several in provincial areas.
In the past three months, Abiy has made major changes in Ethiopia including shaking up the security services, releasing jailed dissidents, moving to liberalise the economy and to resolve a two-decade conflict with arch-enemy Eritrea.
“Ethiopia will be on top again, and the foundations will be love, unity and inclusivity,” he declared, drressed in a green T-shirt and a hat.
Opposition ends ‘armed resistance’
Abiy succeeded Hailemariam Desalegn, who resigned in February amid a wave of anti-government protests led by the country’s two largest ethnicities, that started in late 2015 and left hundreds of people dead.
While it remains unclear how deep Abiy’s support runs within the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), his actions thus far represent dramatic shifts in the power balance within Africa’s second-most populous country.
Political rallies of Saturday’s scale are rare in Ethiopia, where the EPRDF controls all seats in parliament and opposition parties complain of harassment.
But at the rally people openly displayed flags of banned groups such as the Oromo Liberation Front, an act that would usually result in arrest.
Abiy’s reforms have spurred some anti-government groups to seek rapprochement.
After the release of top official Andargachew Tsige in May, anti-government group Ginbot 7 announced on Friday it would cease armed attacks in the country, citing Abiy’s reform agenda.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo South has concluded campaign rallies in the southern senatorial district with a grand finale at the Garrick Memorial School ground, Ekenwan Road, Benin City, Edo State capital.
The leadership of the PDP at the event, while extolling the benefits of party’s manifestos, solicited support for President Goodluck Jonathan and the Edo State PDP candidates in the state and National Assembly elections.
The party also welcomed new defectors from the All Progressives Congress (APC) who were part of the rally.
A lawyer, George Eke has said that a peacefully rally can be held without the need of any permission from the police except in cases where security is needed.
He stated that Section 40 of the constitution talks about “peace rally” which permits that a rally holds as long as it is “peaceful.” However, Eke added that it is in the purview of the police to determine if the rally is peaceful or not.
Speaking on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr. Eke berated the police commissioner for claiming that the media was biased in reporting the incident because “the same media gave the commissioner a medium to air his views.”
Mr. Eke added that the police claimed they got security information that the rival party was going to attack the rally and if the police had looked away like the way people asked them to, and this rival party arrived, it may have caused mayhem which would lead to the federal government declaring Rivers state a state of emergency.
He said that “if the rival group was going to attack, the first thing the police would have done is to prevent the rally from holding”.
A Legal Practitioner, Ikechukwu Ikeji, says the Police raid on the Save Rivers Movement rally in Port-Harcourt on Sunday, January 12, may be justifiable under the Nigerian Constitution.
He threw his weight behind the point of view that everybody’s right of association is guaranteed under the Nigerian Constitution and those rights of association “include the right to hold demonstrations and sundry kinds of rallies.”
He, however, noted that Section 45 of the same constitution goes further to derogate from that right by saying that “nothing in the constitution or in some of the sections mentioned, including the right to freedom of association shall render invalid any law that is made by the National Assembly, that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society for the interest of public safety.”
He explained that this implied that a law could be made by the National Assembly in any form to curtail some of those rights so as to ensure public safety.
He went further to state that the Police Act is such law that the National Assembly had made which curtails the citizens’ rights of association for the sake of ensuring public safety, law and order. This according to him, empowers the Police to step in if it sees “that a particular situation may be likely to result in breakdown of law and order.”
Ikeji was asked to clarify the key elements that the Police would need to identify for it to conclude that a situation may result in breakdown of law and order, he referred to antecedents as the key elements that the Police would need to consider. These include the volatility of the polity and the environment, the parties involved, and the prevailing security situation.
Ikechukwu made this assertion on Channels Television’s daily breakfast programme, ‘Sunrise Daily’.
He insisted that it would be left for the court to decide who was right or wrong in the Rivers State crisis.
Watch this video for more of Ikechukwu Ikeji’s arguments.