Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Nigerian Students In UK Demonstrate

Last week, Nigerian students in the United Kingdom staged a confused demonstration march in London to show their support for the military leaders in Lagos. The march, which was sponsored by a movement called "Nigeria National Union of UK" and advertised by the West African magazine, did not, however, attract as large a following as was expected.

According to the leader of the march, Mr A. Abubakar who is secretary of the Union, the aim was to make the British government cooperate with the military government in Lagos. This is necessary, he said, because "by allowing run-away politicians access to the media, the British government is in effect saying that it is not in support of the Buhari government".

The march which was scheduled for 10.00am did not begin until 11.00am. Starting from 56/57 Fleet Street, the students marched en route to the Houses of Parliament carrying posters, some of which read: "Nigerian Students in the UK support Bahari", "Britain, stop harbouring fugitives", etc.

With chantings such as "All we are saying, leave us alone", and other such statements, the demonstrators were, however, not allowed to go near the parliament buildings as they were told that Parliament was not aware of any meeting with demonstrating Nigerian students and so could not break its session.

They were also told that nobody at No. 10 Downing Street (the official residence of the Prime Minister) was aware of their coming. They were thus forced to retreat to Fleet Street.

Back at Fleet Street, there was utter pandemonium as the crowd began accusing the student leaders of inept planning, deceit and treachery. In a conversation with one of the angry demonstrators, this reporter was told that most of the students turned up for the march because the student leaders had told them that they were going to meet with members of Parliament and with Mrs Margaret Thatcher. "Why did I have to leave my classes and be in this freezing rain for this nonsense?" the man retorted.

Some officials at the Nigerian High Commission which is said to have financed the march refused to talk when asked for their comments.

In a leaflet distributed at Fleet Street, the students claimed that "Nigerians are demonstrating because:

1. Nigerian criminals are sheltering in the United Kingdom. They are relying on the kindness of the British Government to protect them.

2. These people are wanted for corruption in Nigeria. They have been shown to have taken illegal commissions and bribes.

3. Their actions have nearly forced people at home and abroad.

4. Justice requires the British Government to return these people to justice in Nigeria.

5. No one should be above the law.

6. This is why we demand that Akinloye, Dikko, Ishaku, Wayas and Co must be made to return to Nigeria and take the consequences for their corruption.

7. They have stolen the wealth of the Nigerian people.

8. If they have nothing to hide or worry about, why did they run away? Why will they not return and answer for their business activities?"

talking drums 1984-02-27 ghana's aimless revolution - pro buhari demonstration in London