Anti-IBB Protest Rocks Lagos

Source: BABATOLA MICHAEL - thewillnigeria.com
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LAGOS, June 04, (THEWILL) - Scores of human rights, pro-democracy and civil society activists today called for legal and mass actions against former military leader, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, describing him as the "killer of hope" for annulling the June 12, 1993 presidential election.

The calls were made at a rally in Lagos to mark the 14th anniversary of the gruesome killing of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, the senior wife of the presumed winner of June 12 presidential election, Late Chief Moshood Kasimawo Olawale Abiola (MKO).

At the rally, such activists as Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin of Campaign for Democracy (CD), Comrade Debo Adeniran of Coalition against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), Comrade Moshood Erubami of Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) and Mr. Raph Uwazuruike of Movement for Actualization of the Sovereign State for Biafra (MASSOB), called for Babangida’s prosecution.

Former United States Envoy to Nigeria, Ambassador Walter Carrington, Comrade Wale Oshun of Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), Mr. Jimi Agbaje of Democratic People’s Alliance (SNG), Chief Gani Adam of Odu’a People’s Congress (OPC), Professor Ukachuckwu Awuzie of Academic Staff Union of Union (ASUU) and Comrade Christian Love of the Save Nigeria Group Youth Wing were also at the rally held at the exact spot where Kudirat was murdered on June 4, 1996.

A crop of the protesting human rights, pro-democracy and civil society communities were holding various placards with anti-IBB inscriptions like "Reject IBB: The Killer of Hope in 1993" and singing dirges and elegies slowly and emotionally with a message denoting posthumous honour for Kudirat whom the activists described as their "Amazon of Mandate Defence."

In his address at the rally, Carrington recalled how Kudirat was murdered during the regime of the late tyrant, General Sani Abacha and how several human rights and pro-democracy activists lost their lives in the fight for the country’s democratic transition, thus calling for free, fair and credible elections.

Carrington said: "I am happy to be here and honour a woman I called the bravest and undaunted defender of human rights that Africa has known. We must continue in that tradition to defend the mandate she gave her life for. Let us never forget her sacrifice. We should make effort to ensure free and fair elections.

"Back in 1998 when Kudirat was killed, my wife and I stood at Nigeria Consular Office in New York where a street was named after her. It rained that day. It rained last year too when we gathered in remembrance of Kudirat. It is raining too today. This means June 4 is significant in Nigeria’s history,"he said.

Also addressing the rally today, Okei-Odumakin described Babangida as the killer of the June 12 presidential election, which was freest, fairest and most credible in the history of Nigeria. She said: "IBB killed the mandate of the people of Nigeria."

Okei-Odumakin added that Kudirat "is our Amazon of Mandate Defence. She will not die in vain. All of us should register and vote right. We must not stop at voting. We must also defend our vote with our vigour. People like Babangida should not be allowed to rule us again."

Adeniran too, who is the leader of Coalition against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), called for the prosecution of the past leaders who murdered democracy, saying the people “should bring them to justice. Babangida IBB should be prosecuted.”

Pastor Grace Aiyedogbon, a strong leader of Save Nigeria Group, warned that the killers of June 12 "are still around. One of them is Babangida. We should reject all of them. It is time to say no to Babangida who killed our mandate."

On Kudirat, Agbaje reminded the protesting activists of the need to continue "to celebrate Kudirat. Our effort is not in vain as President Goodluck Jonathan has recognized Abiola. We must never give. With time, June 12 heroes will be immortalized."

Awuzie, ASUU President, simply flaws Nigeria's "democracy. What we have is civil rule." But he warned that no person should be allowed "to steal the mandate of the people in the name of election. Power belongs to all of us. We should protect our vote. We should ensure that only good people who care about us are giving opportunity to rule us."

Oshun, who is the Chairman of Afenifere Renewal Group, stated that Kudirat "knew the risk she was taken then. She knew she could be murdered. She stood her ground. We can only remember her by ensuring that those who contributed to her death never come to rule use again. We should stand for free and fair elections. Let us ensure that she did not die in vain."