The 45-year-old National President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Sunday Asefon, has cancelled a rally called by the association to disrupt the planned June 12 Democracy Day nationwide protest.
Civil society organisations and human rights activists have called for a nationwide protest on June 12 against the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
According to various publicity posters, the protest will make 14 critical demands which are: Abolish 1999 constitution, End terrorism, End banditry, Isa Pantami must go (Minister of Communications and Digital Economy who expressed sympathy for terrorists), Free all detained activists, End insecurity, Justice for all EndSARS victims, Free Kogi2 (Two anti-President Muhammadu Buhari protesters – Larry Emmanuel and Victor Anene Udoka – who are being detained in Kogi State), Buhari Must Go, Revert electricity tariffs, End ASUP (Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics) strike, Revert fuel price, Revert party deregistration, and Free Nicholas Mbah.
However, Asefon in meeting with Nigeria's Inspector of General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba on Tuesday promised to mobilise against those planning the June 12 rally, using his power as NANS president.
“He met with the Inspector of General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba three days ago but the IGP refused to take pictures with him, telling him there was a crisis in NANS and he was not sure Asefon was in control.
“Asefon then told him he is the original President with the structure of the students’ body.
“He then asked the IGP for assistant and the condition given to him was to mobilise against the people planning protests on June 12 if truly he is the original NANS President.
“He immediately promised the IGP to consider it done. He said they will initially join the rally and later disrupt it,” a source had told SaharaReporters.
The source added that the report forced the 45-year-old NANS leader to cancel the rally he planned to use to disrupt the June 12 Democracy Day protest called by civil society organisations and human rights activists.
Meanwhile, Asefon in a statement obtained by SaharaReporters on Friday claimed the rally was suspended to avoid a clash with security agencies that are on red alert to protect the nation’s infrastructures on the proposed date.
He said, “In the last week, I have met with the Inspector General of Police, other security agencies, held series of meetings with student leaders across the country. While everyone agreed that the context of the planned protest is genuine and we reserve the right to protest, the palpable tension surrounding the date has come under special scrutiny. Let me reiterate that our planned protest was never part of the Buhari Must Go Campaign or Secessionist Campaign, our planned protest was borne out of our genuine concerns for the safety of our students.
“However, some politicians with different agendas to ours have concluded plans to hijack the protest to ventilate their political opinions and sentiments. While every Nigerian reserves the right to their opinion and the right to protest, it will be dangerous to our members if the protest is hijacked as the security agencies have shared with us credible intelligence in this regard. When some of these political players discovered that we have seen their plans and their initial solidarity with us is fake and an avenue to use our platform to ventilate their divisive agenda, they resulted in blackmailing us with lies and fake news on their platform.
“Having considered the current security realities and the danger to the lives of our members in case of possible hijack of the planned protest, I in consultation with all the structures of NANS, therefore, announce the suspension of our proposed protest for June 12.
“The suspension of the protest is necessary to avoid a clash of interest and clash with security agencies that are on red alert to protect the nation’s infrastructures from security breaches on the proposed date as a result of many other protests slated for the date.
“I, therefore, call on all our structures across the country to suspend the planned protest for a later date that will be announced soon after due consultation with student leaders across the thirty-six (36) states of the federation, including the FCT.”