By Adedayo Akinwale
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Caucus in the House of Representatives has called on the federal government to desist from the path of unreasonable and irrational actions against #EndSARS protesters.
The caucus said the deliberate hounding of peaceful protesters makes nonsense of the judicial panels of inquiry, as the actions of the government and clampdown on the genuine protesters, while investigation into police brutality is on-going, are not only paradoxical but ridiculous and deceitful.
The caucus therefore hopes that the government retraces its steps and engages the youths as partners and not dissidents that must be treated with scorn and discredited for voicing their opinions on the many unfortunate happenstances in our country.
The leader of the caucus, Hon. Kingsley Chinda, stated this in a statement issued Tuesday, saying the caucus noted with trepidation that in the last few weeks, the media have been inundated with news reports of actions taken by government against #EndSARS protesters and alleged supporters.
The caucus stressed that the government must free itself from fifth columnists bent on derailing the country’s democracy.
It noted that government must follow all democratic principles in dealing with those arrested due to their involvement in the protests, adding that rule of law must be observed in whatever measures government is willing to take against them.
Chinda stated: “These actions, which include seizure of passports/travel documents, freezing of bank accounts, court orders sought and obtained by the government against citizens, de-registration of companies perceived to be supporters of #EndSARS by the Corporate Affairs Commission and arrests and prosecution of some genuine protesters, show the insidious and ridiculous length the government has gone in muzzling the rights and freedoms of citizens whose only offence is that they dared to speak the truth to power and to a government that has become tone-deaf; on auto drive and of course blind to the sufferings of Nigerians.
“Though it is the constitutional responsibility of government to maintain law and order, we believe that this purposive duty imposed by the constitution must be discharged in a manner that accords respect for the rights of citizens and within the bounds of the rule of law. So far, the actions of government speak volume of the way it continues to treat the citizens with disdain, stoking the flames of anarchy that would invariably devour the relationship between it and the citizens.
“When a government persists on the path of unreasonable and irrational actions, the tension that ensues between it and the citizens can only grow into civil resistance of citizens who consider it as an enemy and not partners in nation building.”
The caucus further warned the federal government against muddling up the genuine agitation of protesters with the subsequent hijacking of the protests by hoodlums who wreaked havoc including arson and looting of public and private properties worth billions of naira.
According to the caucus, “We the PDP Caucus wishes to state that the attempt to equate the #EndSars protests with the looting, vandalism and criminality exhibited in some cities, including some that did not participate in the EndSARS protest is not helpful for several reasons.”
The caucus stressed that the EndSARS protests, though disruptive, was largely peaceful until hoodlums were procured to disrupt the peaceful protest.
It insisted that equating the two very distinct events — the peaceful protests and the violence that erupted after the peaceful protesters were sacked from the streets by thugs allegedly hired by principal elements in the government — obscures any proper scrutiny that should be undertaken of what happened and blurs pragmatic solutions to the immediate and remote causes of the problem.
The caucus therefore called on the government to show good faith to the youths and protesters by refraining from freezing of accounts, seizure of travel documents, wrongfully but intentionally tagging patriotic Nigerian youths as terrorist, etc, and to give the various judicial panels of enquiry the unhindered opportunity to conclude their investigations.
It noted: “In fact, the matters before the Judicial Panels of Inquiry are ‘Lis Pendens’ and this is especially so now that the various Judicial Panels of Inquiry are hearing petitions and their proceedings serve as sufficient legal notices to President Muhammadu Buhari to respect and protect the inalienable right to peaceful protest of citizens.
“Finally, there is no better time than now for reducing the tension in the land and suing for peace. This government must act in a responsible manner and show to all that it appreciates the fact that strong arm tactics isn’t what responsible government is about. This government must sue and work for peace. A stitch in time they say saves nine.”