Federal lawmakers from Cross Rivers State have reacted to the ugly incidents of arson and looting instigated by hoodlums who hijacked recent movement for the reform of the Nigeria Police Force and proscription of the dreaded Special Anti Robbery Squad.
In a joint statement signed by Senators and House of Representatives from the state under the aegis of Cross Rivers State National Assembly caucus, they deplored the looting and burning of property owned by the government and private individuals in the state.
The lawmakers who acknowledged that the protests by the youths in the state and across the country tagged #EndSARS protests were legitimate, however, expressed regret that “criminal elements took advantage of the meaningful and peaceful #EndSARS protests, to unleash their nefarious acts against our dear state.”
“The protest by Nigerian Youths in different states across the country started out as a peaceful demonstration calling for the abolition of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police Force, which was accused of numerous cases of misconduct and abuse of human rights, specifically targeted at young Nigerians.
“The protesters also sought an end to police brutality and a commitment to good governance by the Nigerian government. These among other legitimate and pressing concerns were succinctly elucidated by the protesters and were well within the rights of the Nigerian people in accordance with the stipulations of Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), 1966, which guarantees the right of peaceful assembly and abhor any restriction to freedom of exercising such rights by its member states.
“At the regional level, Nigeria ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 1981, and Article 11 recognizes the right of every individual to assemble freely, subject to restrictions on activities that are contrary to interests of national security, the safety, health, ethics and rights and freedoms of others. Moreover, Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 recognises the right of every Nigerian citizen to assemble freely and associate with other persons.
“Therefore, the protest and its objectives were warranted, justified and we reach out a hand of solidarity to the #EndSARS cause. However, the recent degeneration and commandeering of the protest by hoodlums and criminal elements, are regrettable and purported to taint an otherwise well-intended purpose.”
The lawmakers who attributed the looting by hoodlums to hunger and desperation appealed to government and public officers to become more conscionable representatives in delivering the dividends of democracy as they noted that the uprising was an eye-opener. They further cautioned that it would no longer be business as usual.
The statement further read in part: “The wind of the peaceful #EndSARS protests that blew across the country for the past three weeks has left a bold mark for government and public officers to become more conscionable representatives in delivering the dividends of democracy and in our sensitivity to the welfare of the people, ensuring a change of attitude in service. The truth is; it will never be business as usual, as all of us are behind this legitimate movement by our people. Your demands will be given prompt consideration, please be patient with us.
“It is important that power and resources over the economic planning and development of our State, are properly devolved and decentralized between all arms and levels of government, as stipulated by the 1999 Constitution (as amended). This is to ensure that institutions are effectively and efficiently empowered to deliver on their constitutional obligations. We are dedicated to broaching these issues with all stakeholders, in an effort to promote effective bottom-up, people-centric governance.
“As members of the National Assembly Caucus, we pledge to become more vocal and responsive to issues that affect the wellbeing of our nation and our dear state. We will join hands with the Cross River State Government, security agencies within the state and our country at large to proffer lasting solutions that will seek to ensure that the events of the past weekend never ever occurs in our dear state again.”
Those who signed the resolutions included, leader of the Cross Rivers State National Assembly Caucus, Senator Gershom Bassey, Senator Sandy Onor, Honourables Essien Ayi, Daniel Asuquo, Jaribe Agom, and Legor Idagbo. Others were Honourable Chris Agibe, Mike Itaba, Ettah Mbora and Alex Egbona.