Entertainer and activist, Mr Charles Oputa aka Charley Boy on Tuesday, collapsed at the Unity Fountain after inhaling teargas from canisters fired at protesters by anti-riot policemen.
Water cannon was also deployed as police attacked the protesters who were demanding that President Muhammadu Buhari either resume office or resign.
Oputa, 66, who was one of the protest leaders was however revived on the spot, while some protesters and journalists sustained injuries during the encounter.
Buhari has been in the UK where he is receiving medical attention since May 7 – more than 90 days.
On Monday, a coalition of civil society groups under the aegis of ‘Concerned Nigerians’ hit the streets to demand that the president either resume office or resign.
The group vowed to continue their protests at the Unity Fountain in Abuja until the president either returns or resigns.
The full demands of the group are; “that the president either personally or through his aides make the true detail of his health known to all Nigerians; that president should address all Nigerians in a language we can all understand on the true state of his health and other national issues; that he returns to the country and resume work as president of Federal Republic of Nigeria in order to lead us out economic and security quagmire we have been pushed into as a nation; if President Buhari fails, refuses and/ or neglect to do any of the above , then he should resign from office; if he fails to honourably resign ,then he should be impeached from office by the national assembly”.
The protest was without incident on Monday.
But on Tuesday, the police cracked down on the protesters who were largely peaceful on the grounds that it had been hijacked by thugs, a claim that has been contested
Spokesperson for the FCT Command, Anjuguri Manzah, said officers moved to disperse “some miscreants, hoodlums and other criminal elements that have infiltrated the protest.”
Manzah also accused the protesters of “blocking major roads” adjoining the area”, thereby preventing citizens from having free passage.
However, some eyewitnesses tell a different story, Mr Amadin, who said he arrived early to cover the event, said the police moved against the protesters, who were “not more than 10.”
He said the officers informed the protesters that they had “orders from above” to crack down on the protesters when they return to Unity Fountain today.
They even unleashed fighter dogs against the protesters, including Charlie Boy.
“When they started beating me despite identifying myself as a journalist, they saw my cameraman filming the whole scene from afar and they swooped on him too and severely injured him.
“They seized our camera and did what they wanted with it,” the reporter added.
Another spokesperson for the police, Jimoh Moshood, said the reporter should go and report the assault at the police station.
“We’re not aware that any journalist was caught in the confrontation. But the person can go to the station to lodge a complaint,” he concluded.
Reports said the police fired tear gas canisters at the protesters wounding a citizen who was rushed to a clinic at the Federal Secretariat complex, a few kilometres from the scene of the incident.