The Cross River State National Assembly Caucus has appealed to indigenes of the state to apply a more constructive and proactive approach to reach an understanding following last weekends’ wanton destruction of properties by those they described as criminal elements.
While the lawmakers condemned all forms of criminality they acknowledged that “some of the perpetrators involved in the uprising that ensued last weekend, were motivated by the hunger, destitution, and desperation in the State.”
The Caucus said “violence is not only a threat to a functional society but clouds cogent and justified objectives, impedes on the pace of addressing the initial grievances expressed through peaceful protest and compounds the financial cost on taxpayers with the refurbishment of government properties and curbing insecurity within the State.”
Located in the south-south region of Nigeria, the state had last week witnessed massive looting and destruction of public and private properties as well as businesses in Calabar, the state capital by hoodlums.
In a press release Thursday, the caucus made up of senators and members of House of Representatives in the country’s legislature appealed to indigenes to collaborate with the state government “as it restores law and order and puts an end to the ugly incidents perpetrated against the government, private businesses and individuals by criminal elements last weekend”.
“It is clear to us that these criminal elements took advantage of the meaningful and peaceful #EndSARS protests, to unleash their nefarious acts against our dear State,” the lawmakers stated.
They added that; “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.
The lawmakers condemned the degeneration of a good intended protest and called on well-meaning Cross Riverians to stand up to protect and defend the state from those who many have described as aggrieved and suppressed Nigerians.
“The recent degeneration and commandeering of the protest by hoodlums and criminal elements, are regrettable and purported to taint an otherwise well-intended purpose.
“We regret the sad incidents of looting, vandalism, and wanton destruction of various government, private and individual properties in Calabar that occurred between the night of Friday, 23rd and Sunday, 25th October 2020. The undertone of this negative occurrence sought to criminalize the good people of our State.
“We are calling on all well-meaning Cross Riverians to stand up henceforth to protect and defend Calabar and Cross River State from hoodlums who are on a rampage, in a hopeless attempt to give us a bad image,” the lawmakers said.
While the lawmakers sympathized with former lawmakers, business owners, and members of the public whose properties and businesses were vandalized and destroyed, they thanked the state Governor, Benedict Ayade, for his response and steps taken in handling the crisis.
They noted that the #EndSARS protest 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,” the lawmakers said.
By Abel Ejikeme