Members of the Yoruba nation and the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) on Friday evening invaded the premises of the Nigerian House, Kudirat Abiola Corner, Manhattan, protesting against the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
But the personnel of the New York Police Department were quickly deployed to maintain law and order. However, the police had a hard time controlling the protesters who had resorted to hounding and hauling unprintable names at anyone that came out or went into the Nigerian House.
Some of the Nigerian dignitaries they hounded included the Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, one of his predecessors in office, Babagana Kingibe and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Abubakar.
Some journalists were also not spared as some of the protesters accused them of writing “rubbish” in favour of the Buhari administration. They rained expletives on anyone they saw, including people not connected to the government, but just happened to be present at the building.
The protesters accused them of being aiding and abetting Fulani herdsmen, who they accused of killing members of other tribes in Nigeria.
Some of them said: “If you accused this terrorist government, you are a terrorist, you are a thief.”
A Nigerian security agent and member of staff at the Consulate, who could no longer stomach the insults, confronted the protesters, and his action almost resulting in a fisticuff exchange.
They also expressed anger that the police allowed the protesters to step into the Nigerian House property rather than restrict them to opposite or adjacent to the building. Some of the police personnel quickly stepped in and prevented the fisticuffs while others created a wooden cordon around the entrance of the building.
They thereafter prevailed on the protesters to maintain their distance behind the cordon as they continued to express their anger at the state of the nation. The protesters carried banners with various inscriptions, including: “Break up Nigeria to save lives, Buhari is a life patron of Fulani terrorists, Fulani poses an existential threat to indigenous sub-Saharan Africans, Fulani is terrorists, Free Sowore, drop all charges against him, Stop giving loans to Nigerian government, End Fulani terrorism in Nigeria.”
Pro- and anti-Buhari protests were constant features throughout the duration of President Buhari’s participation at the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The pro-government protesters who congregated under the name of “One Nigeria” carried out their solidarity marches around the Nigerian Consulate daily, stressing the need for the country to remain as one.
They also carried posters, which affirmed that the claim of killings and marginalization were propaganda against the country.
One of the leaders of Yoruba nation, Foluso Aruleba, who apologized to some of the journalists hounded said: “Please forgive our people. Their actions are based on the genocide ongoing in Nigeria/ the rate of our naira value to other currencies. We pray for divine intervention. We work and pray, pray and work. He will keep in perfect peace those whose minds stayed on him because in Him we trust.
Nwachineke Onyeke Chekwube reporting, Obinwannem Enugu writer / September 26, 2021.