By Omololu Ogunmade
Following the resolution of the United Kingdom parliamentarians for sanctions against top Nigerian officials and security agents involved in alleged violation of #EndSARS protesters’ rights, the federal government yesterday said it has engaged the British Government over the threat.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Geoffrey Onyeama, told State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, in Abuja, that the essence of the initiative was for the federal government to present its own side of the story.
Onyeama, however, played down the sanction threat by the parliamentarians, saying that legislators are not responsible for imposing sanctions on other nations.
But he said it is still necessary for Nigeria to give the UK government its own position to enable it to have a balanced perspective.
Onyeama was reacting to Monday’s resolutions taken after the parliamentarians had considered a petition signed by 220, 000 signatories in the aftermath of the alleged shooting of protesters at the Lekki Tollgate on October 20, calling, among others, for sanction against indicted Nigerian officials.
Onyeama said despite the knowledge that the parliament has no power to impose sanctions or speak for the government of the UK, the Nigerian government still deemed it fit to brief the UK government and present it with a balanced perspective.
According to him, the federal government has briefed both the British parliament and the government and they have at their disposal now, a balanced picture of what transpired during the protests.
He said: “On the issue of UK parliament, yes, we have reached out to the UK government. The UK government has been briefed. There was a UK parliamentarian meeting. Parliamentarians don’t speak for the UK government, which acts for the United Kingdom. It has also heard the side of the (Nigerian) government regarding everything that has happened.
“So, we have been in touch with them and engaging with them. And of course, as in any democracy, the members of parliament are able to also air their views. But what is important is that a balanced picture is made available to them before they take any decision.”
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had told THISDAY on Tuesday that the federal government was unperturbed by resolutions of the United Kingdom parliamentarians, adding that the UK government will not sanction Nigerian officials based on a fake report.
Onyeama also told reporters yesterday that he briefed FEC on the outcome of his engagement with stakeholders in the South-east in accordance with the presidential directive to engage people from their zones following the # EndSARS protests.
He said consequently, the South-east governors had come up with some proposals to address the needs of the youth in the region.
He added that the governors would create a Victims’ Fund to mobilise money to compensate violence victims. He said the governors were also keen to put in place the machinery to guarantee the safety of lives in the South-east.
The minister explained that the governors would create a platform for dialogue with both the youth and other stakeholders in the zone.
According to him, “South-east governors are committed to creating Victims’ Fund to compensate and help victims of violence. They are also to engage more systematically with the youths to address the agitations as a result of #EndSARS, and came up with a number of proposals in that context to see better funding of the police and other security agencies as a way of achieving the right goal in addressing the security issues.
“They were also very keen to ensure and guarantee the safety of all Nigerians living within the zone and also thanked the other parts of the country for ensuring the safety of those from the South-east living in other parts of the country. They said they will set up a mechanism for constant dialogue with the youths and all the other stakeholders in the sub-region.”
Ahmed also said a committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to make recommendations on reopening the borders had concluded its assignment and now set to submit its report to him.
The federal government had last August ordered the closure of the nation’s land borders to stave off smuggling of commodities such as rice and small weapons.
According to her, what is only left is for members of the committee to sign the report latest tomorrow and it will be ready for presentation to the president.
She said: “On the border closure, Mr. President has set up a committee that I chair, alongside the Minister of Foreign Affairs and other ministers, including Interior, Customs, Immigration, the security services, to review and advise him on the issue of border closure.
“The committee has just completed its work and we’ll be submitting our report. I’ve signed my copy. I gave everybody to sign between today (yesterday) and tomorrow (today) so that we submit the report to Mr. President.”