Says hounding of protesters makes nonsense of judicial panel
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 no sense of the judicial panels of inquiry, as the actions of the government and the clampdown on the genuine protesters, while investigation into police brutality is ongoing, are not only paradoxical but ridiculous and deceitful.
The House caucus, however, hopes that the government would retrace its steps and engage 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 yesterday, saying the caucus noted with trepidation that in the last few weeks, the media has been inundated with reports of actions taken by the government against #EndSARS protesters and alleged supporters.
The caucus stressed that this government must free itself from fifth columnists bent on derailing the country’s democracy.
It noted that the government must follow all democratic principles in dealing with those arrested due to their involvement in the protests, adding that the rule of law must be observed in whatever measures the government is willing to take against them.
According to Chinda, “These actions, which include seizure of international 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(CAC), 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 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 the government to maintain law and order, we believe that this 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 the government speak volume of the way it continues to treat the citizens with disdain, and 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 wrecked havocs, including arson and looting of public and private properties worth billions of naira.
“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,” it stated.
The caucus stressed that the #EndSARS protests, though disruptive, was largely peaceful until hoodlums were procured to disrupt the peaceful protest.
“Finally, there is no better time than now to reduce the tension in the land and sue 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 stich in time saves nine,” the PDP caucus cautioned.”