- Says youths’ agitations justified, condemns criminality
- Promises to work with state govt, security agencies for lasting solutions
The Cross River State National Assembly Caucus has sympathised with members of the public, business owners and individuals who suffered losses when the peaceful #EndSARS protest turned violent in the state after it was hijacked by hoodlums.
In a statement issued Thursday, the caucus said its stands by government as it restores law and order and puts an end to the ugly incidents.
“We are bound by the collective obligation to protect and defend Calabar and every part of Cross River State against criminal elements and other enemies of our dear State,” the federal lawmakers said in the statement.
Noting that the voices of the people had been heard loud and clear, the lawmakers urged them to give peace a chance and be patient with government.
The caucus, comprising senators and House of Representatives members, extended its hand of solidarity to the #EndSARS cause noting that the protest and its objectives were warranted and justified.
It however added that the degeneration and commandeering of the protest by hoodlums and criminal elements were regrettable and purported to taint an otherwise well intended purpose.
Condemning what it called the needless destruction of federal and state-owned properties, as well as private properties during the chaos, the caucus sent its solidarity to Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw, Senator Bassey Edet Out, Hilliard Etta Calabar Market Women’s Association and its members, some members of Cross River National Assembly caucus, and all other victims of the violence.
The statement read: “We, the Distinguished Senators and Honourable Members of the National Assembly Cross River State Caucus lend our collective voices in appeal to your good conscience to stand by government as it restores law and order and puts an end to the ugly incidents perpetrated against 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 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 recognizes 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 characteristic trademark of Cross River State is as an oasis of peace and the people’s paradise, indigenous to a people known for tolerance and love for one another and as well as others. This is our heritage and our priceless gains that have earned us a unique identity, admired by other parts of the country. We cannot give it up to the sheer exhilaration of the enemies of our State. We cannot allow those who do not wish us well, to destroy our coveted patrimony.
“We regret the sad incidents of looting, vandalism and wanton destruction of several 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. But then, we know the industrious and good-natured people of Cross River State cannot be identified with this unholy trend. This is why 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.
“With broken hearts, we identify and sympathize with the Government of Cross River State over the needless destruction of federal and state-owned properties, as well as private properties during the chaos last weekend. We send our solidarity to:
1. Victor Ndoma-Egba (Senator);
2. Bassey Ewa Henshaw (Senator);
3. Prince Bassey Edet Otu (Senator);
4. Hilliard Etta;
5. Other elder statesmen and stateswomen;
6. Calabar Market Women’s Association and its members;
7. Some members of our Cross River National Assembly caucus;
8.Other members of the public, business owners and individuals who suffered losses in this unfortunate turn of events.
“Our hearts and prayers are with you all in this difficult time.
“We also recognize and thank the Governor, His Excellency Senator Benedict Ayade, for his response and the steps taken to avert further looting and destruction in our capital city, Calabar, by criminal elements during the unfortunate incidents of last weekend.
“We understand that the agitations of the good people of Cross River State are well placed and their request for accountability from their government are justified. Additionally, while we condemn any form of criminality, it is important to acknowledge that some of the perpetrators involved in the ‘uprising’ that ensued last weekend, were motivated by the hunger, destitution and desperation in the State. We have heard your cries and are committed to addressing your plight.
“We therefore appeal to our dear youths, elders, political leaders, religious leaders and traditional institutions for a more
constructive and proactive approach to reach an understanding and the resolution that violence is not only a threat to a functional society (the common aspiration of us all), 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 tax payers with the refurbishment of government properties and curbing insecurity within the State.
“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.”