#EndSARS: Destruction of public properties in Ondo unprecedented ― Akeredolu

• Condemns videos inciting ethnic conflicts, schools remain closed

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, on Sunday, described the level of destruction in the state during the protest against police brutality and unprofessional conduct which was hijacked by hoodlums in the state as worrisome, disheartening and unprecedented in the history of the state.

Akeredolu who stated this while addressing newsmen at the Government House in Akure, the state capital, lamented over the loss of lives and wanton destruction of both Public and Private assets by hoodlums and killing who hijacked the #EndSARS protest in the state.

According to him, such actions were totally reprehensible, condemnable and hugely misdirected, saying that he was convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that there was more to it than meets the eye.

Akeredolu who is also the Chairman of the Southwest Governors’ Forum, also condemned a video by one Adeyinka Godson, giving an ultimatum to Igbos to leave the South-West region.

Describing the video as puerile, divisive and revisionist, the Governor enjoined the Igbos and other tribes in the Southwest to disregard the ultimatum and go about their legitimate business.

Akeredolu said: “Events witnessed in the state in the last few days are worrisome and deeply disheartening. The loss of lives in some cases, as well as the mindless destruction of public and private property in some cities and towns in our State, in particular Akure, Ondo, Ore and Okitipupa cannot receive accolades under any guise.

“They are totally reprehensible, condemnable and hugely misdirected. We are convinced beyond any doubt that there is more to it.

“Based on preliminary reports, I undertook a tour of affected areas and assets alongside security chiefs for an on the spot assessment.

“I have seen with my eyes, the painful destruction of public assets such as the High Court Complex, Local Government Secretariat including school shuttle buses all in Okitipupa, several Police Stations, vehicles, offices, banks, markets as well as assets of private individuals.

“Of note is the Okitipupa Correctional Centre where inmates, including convicted ones, have been released. We particularly express our heartfelt sympathy to one of our illustrious sons, Engr Ife Oyedele FNSE, over the malicious damage done to his residence in Okitipupa.

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“The burning of my campaign office, as well as the APC and PDP Secretariats, is another dubious dimension which gives credence to our fears that the genuine motive of the original protesters had been hijacked.

“We have since appealed to all to refrain from reprisal attacks. We note the efforts made by parties of the political divide alongside the youths of Akure, at ensuring that the tension was doused within 48 hours after the frightening dimension.

“On my part, and without prejudice to the course of justice, I have overlooked the ugly incident at my Campaign Office as I regard it as one of the painful prices paid for leadership”

The governor ordered all schools in the state to remain closed until further notice said “our children are billed to return to school after the disruption occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic surge are back home.

“Having assessed the situation in the last few days, we are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that our children must still remain at home for the time being.”

Akeredolu, however, noted that “what we have witnessed in the country is the reflection of deep-rooted anger harboured by not properly engaged youths.

“It has laid bare, the shortcoming of leadership which no one can claim innocence. Clearly too, no single individual, including our very vibrant youths, is insulated from the problem.

“In the same vein, the blame cannot be restricted to a period of time. We are all guilty, collectively of this accumulated burden.

“It is in this regard, that more shall be done in Ondo State for our youths. Our efforts on entrepreneurship and self-development of the youths shall be redoubled going further. Government is more prepared than ever before, to provide the necessary atmosphere for Human Capital Development.

“Similarly, our Technical/Vocational Education sector shall receive better attention. In a matter of weeks, Government shall, alongside stakeholders, have a critical appraisal of the sector in order to strengthen it for maximum benefits to our teeming youths. All over the world, vocations have made more meaningful impacts on society.”

He said: “As a government, the unfortunate incidents have created an entirely new vista of hope and window to deepen our collective concern in the affairs of our people.

“We have had a robust review of the totality of inherent challenges. They are, no doubt, surmountable with commitment and political will.

“Notwithstanding the odious and abhorrent activities of hoodlums who almost succeeded in creating havoc in our dear state under a genuine and legitimate agitation by our youths, there are true, opportunities that could be maximised for good governance.

Without doubt, governments, including the Federal and the sub-nationals, have noted more areas for focus and attention.”

He stated that “As a state government, we had already taken the first bold step by setting up a Judicial Panel of Inquiry to look into Police Brutality.

“This, in our view, remains the most veritable template to build on as regards the future relationship between the Police and the youths in particular.

“The membership of the panel reflects the determination of the Government to tackle the problem comprehensively. The careful selection of individuals and security experts of proven integrity manifests the seriousness of government.

“This was done in line with the key demand of the genuine agitators aside the disbandment of SARS that perpetrators of crimes against our people must be brought to justice. This underscores our total support and commitment to the ideals of the promoters of the legitimate and genuine #EndSARS protest”

Akeredolu, however, stated that those that have been arrested in connection with the destruction of properties in the state will face the full wrath of the law.

He said: ”We will set up a committee to assess those damages and come up with what to be paid. Individuals whose properties were destroyed will be adequately compensated by the state.”

“On this note, we strongly condemn the puerile, divisive and revisionist video by one inconsequential individual by name Adeyinka Godson going viral that has given the Igbos an ultimatum to leave the South-West Region.

“This video is not just senseless. It is the product of an agent of destabilization who does not even mean well for Yorubaland. Igbos, like every other tribe in the South-West, are free to go about their legitimate businesses. They are enjoined to ignore the ultimatum,” he said.

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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