Haruna Bello, identified by sources as one of the organisers of the pro-Nigerian government protest in New York, United States, once declared support for a clampdown on freedom of speech and the suspension of the microblogging site, Twitter by the Muhammadu Buhari-led government.
SaharaReporters earlier on Tuesday reported that pro-government Nigerian protesters who countered groups agitating for self-determination in New York, United States on Monday were paid $50 per hour.
Sources told SaharaReporters that Bello is one of the organisers of the pro-government counter-rally.
Bello's profile on Facebook says he attended Lagos State University, Ojo, and works with UNHCR in the US.
Though Bello is from Madobi Local Government Area of Kano State, in the bandit-ravaged Northern region of Nigeria, he was quick to dismiss on Facebook comments condemning the growing insecurity in the country.
On June 11, 2021, Bello posted on his Facebook page a picture of Buhari with the President's quote: "Take the North West, for example, people with the same language and culture are killing themselves, stealing each other's properties. Imagine the madness. Well, I have now told the military and the police to be brutal.
"From now, we will speak the language they understand and in the coming weeks, you'll get exactly what I am saying."
In reaction to Bello's post, one Anchor Kay Lawrence wrote: "Why can’t this incapable president speak the language his fellow Fulanis that have been terrorising every part of the country, kidnapping, killing like the Boko Haram and the bandits understand? This is the worst president we ever have had."
Bello responded, noting, "Anchor Kay Lawrence, why can’t you go and be the capable president and speak the language the criminals are speaking? The Nigerian Army has been fighting Boko Haram every day for about 19 years now so any stupid person that will come out and threaten the peace and security of Nigeria should be dealt with."
Lawrence thereafter said, "Haruna Bello, I’ve been in Nigeria for 3 months and I come here every year and make sure I spend 3 months each year in Nigeria, I’m experiencing it and not from the news. As I’m speaking to you now, I’m at Igangan where Fulani herdsmen just killed and destroyed properties."
"Haruna Bello, listen here, there’s no peace and security in Nigeria. Do you ever read the news on what’s going on every day in the north, south, and west, where Fulani herdsmen are killing Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo every day?" Lawrence asked.
Bello replied, "Anchor Kay Lawrence, where are you getting your news from? Social media and bias Nigerian press? Allow people that are in Nigeria to discuss what’s going on in Nigeria not you that’s not been in Nigeria for many years.
"If you like, say anything you want to say, I have my facts, no matter how you hate the President, it will not change the fact that he’s still the president and he will continue to be till 2023."
"Anchor Kay Lawrence, stop using emotions or hatred to judge or talk about what’s happening in Nigeria, what’s happening in some parts of Nigeria is unfortunate and nobody will threaten the leans (sic) and security or sovereignty of Nigeria and go free. The Governor of a state is the chief security officer of his state so you don’t expect the president to talk or do anything when/if there is any problem or local clashes in a state," Bello added.
"Anchor Kay Lawrence, take your frustrations somewhere else because all your frustration is about Buhari being your president and that frustration will remain till 2023. My only problem with you guys is you don’t expand your thinking, you just narrow it down to Nigeria and Buhari. If not that Twitter waited for Donald Trump to be out of power before they banned him, what do you think will happen to Twitter? And you are here shouting freedom of speech. Didn’t Donald Trump ban TikTok?"
One of the people privy to the deal that birthed the One Nigeria protest organised to counter the One Million March organised by groups seeking self-determination said the Presidency cabal bankrolled the pro-government rally.
The source told SaharaReporters that the “One Nigeria” protesters were promised $50 for one hour and $150 for three hours to be at the venue of the protest and to show support for President Muhammadu Buhari's regime despite the glaring failures.
“One of the organisers of the fake 'One Nigeria' protest who bribed some Nigerians with the money is Haruna Bello," the source said.
Also, a woman confirmed that she was contacted by the organisers of the “One Nigeria” protest but she declined.
The source said the organisers requested a copy of the identity card of those who would be joining the protest which caused an uproar and made some people back out of the protest.
The source said, “I was invited for the pro-Buhari protest. The organisers promised to pay $50 for one hour and we'll be there for three hours. The person did not know we are Oduduwa adherents; we played along as if we didn't understand him. He explained that he was given a contract to do it but yesterday, it became an issue.
“Nigerians who initially agreed later had an issue with the organisers because the organisers of the pro-Buhari protest said those who would join the protest must tender their ID cards, a copy would be made and taken to the Nigerian House but those ones refused because an ID card in America is very significant.
“With that, the organisers had to quickly go and look for any other Nigerian they saw or those who had no legal papers yet and who are in need of the $150, that they would take them to the venue. It was a staged protest. It was $50 an hour for three hours making it $150.”
The revelation comes as two Nigerian groups with conflicting ideologies confronted each other in New York over the President's visit.
The groups had converged at the Nigerian House on 42nd Street, 2nd Avenue, airing opposing views about the issues of insecurity in Nigeria and its unity.
The protest began as Buhari arrived in New York for his scheduled activities for the United Nations General Assembly.
The One Nigeria group members carried placards on which were written, “Stronger together”, “Unity in diversity”, “Genocide in Eastern Nigeria plain propaganda”, “Nigerians want national unity, not secession”,
“Nigerian Christians not targets of genocide or ethnic cleansing”, among others.
They were, however, opposed by some anti-Buhari protesters who had been organising protests for days calling for a referendum to determine the fate of the country.
The protesters who are calling for self-determination alleged that the members of the One Nigeria Group were “fake” Nigerians hired to carry the flags and take pictures.