#EndSARS Protests: C’River N’Assembly Caucus Sues for Peace

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By Deji Elumoye and Udora Orizu

Following the destruction of public and private property by hoodlums who hijacked the peaceful #EndSARS protests in Cross River State, the state caucus in the National Assembly has called on the youths in the state to give peace a chance and be patient with the government.

The caucus, in a statement yesterday, noted that the voices of the youths had been heard loud and clear.

While sympathising with business owners and individuals who suffered losses when the peaceful #EndSARS protests turned violent in the state, the caucus expressed solidarity with the government as it restores law and order.

The 10-member caucus, comprising two senators and eight members of House of Representatives, extended its hand of solidarity to the #EndSARS cause, noting that the protest and its objectives were warranted and justified.

The Cross River State federal legislators who signed the release include the caucus Chairman, Senator Gershom Bassey; Senator Sandy Onor; Hons Essien Ayi, Daniel Asuquo and Jaribe Agom.

Others are: Hons. Legor Idagbo, Chris Agibe, Mike Itaba, Ettah Mbora and Alex Egbona.

The lawmakers while condemning the destruction of property, commiserated with Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw, Senator Bassey Edet, Hilliard Etta, Calabar Market Women’s Association and its members, some members of the Cross River National Assembly caucus and all other victims of the violence.

The statement read in part: ”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 the 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 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 noted that at the regional level, Nigeria ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 1981, adding that Article 11 recognises 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.

The caucus also stated that Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution recognises the right of every Nigerian to assemble freely and associate with other persons.
The group, however, said the recent degeneration and commandeering of the protest by hoodlums and criminal elements, were 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,” it said.

The lawmakers regretted the looting, vandalism and destruction of government, private and individual’s property in Calabar that occurred between October 23 and 25.

“The undertone of this negative occurrence sought to criminalise 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 sympathise 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,” the caucus stated.