Sanni Onogu, Abuja
The Senate on Tuesday called on the Federal Government to establish a Special Economic Assistance to Lagos State with 1 percent of all revenues collected as Value Added Tax (VAT) to enable it to rebuild all public and private institutions vandalized and destroyed following the hijack of the #EndSARS protests by suspected hoodlums.
The Senate also urged the Federal Government to extend assistance to all victims and states that were properties were destroyed also destroyed and shops looted during the uprising.
The call by the Red Chamber followed its consideration of two motions sponsored by Senator Biodun Olujimi (Ekiti South) and Senator Gershom Bassey (Cross River South) respectively.
Olujimi’s motion was titled: “#EndSARS protests: Urgent need for the Federal Government to assist Lagos State Government in rebuilding its infrastructure” while that of Bassey was titled: “Mayhem visited on the Ancient City of Calabar the first capital of Nigeria on 23rd and 24th October 2020.”
The two prayers in Olujimi’s motion are as follows: “Urge the Federal Government to set up a visitation panel to assess the level of destruction of public and private assets in Lagos State.
“Urge the Federal Government to establish a Special Economic Assistance to Lagos State in recognition of its strategic socio-economic significance by paying a financial grant-in-aid of not less than 1% of the share of revenue allocated to the FG in the Federation Account each year.”
The Senate however amended the prayers by extending the call for urgent economic assistance to other affected states across the country.
The Senate also approved the prayers in Bassey’s motion after amending them to reflect all affected states in the country.
The prayers read: “Condemning the attacks on private and public properties in Calabar on the 23rd and 24th October 2020;
“Mandate the Committee on National Security and Intelligence, Defence, Police Affairs, Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to investigate the invasion of the ancient city of Calabar on the 24th day of October, 2020.”
Olujimi in her lead debate urged the Senate to note that the #EndSARS protest, which assumed a global dimension, began on 3 October, 2020, when the video of a SARS officer who allegedly shot a young Nigerian in Ughelli, Delta State, surfaced online.
She further asked the upper chamber to note that on Wednesday 7 October 2020, youths in Lagos state set out for a three-day protest to call for the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigeria Police Force, as part of the push for reforms in the unit.
Olujimi added: “Aware that 7 October 2020 was the start of a 14-day protest in Lagos that eventually turned violent and hijacked by hoodlums.
“Further aware that at about 6:45 pm on Tuesday 20 October 2020, several media accounts revealed that peaceful protesters were allegedly shot at by the Nigerian military at the Lekki toll gate.
“Concerned that the alleged shooting of protesters further infuriated protesters and tension flared with consequent violent protests and the beginning of wanton looting and destroying of public and private assets all over the country and particularly Lagos, the epicenter of the protests.
“Worried that private and public assets destroyed by hoodlums in Lagos was estimated to be in the region of over 1 trillion naira by the Governor of Lagos State Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
“Further worried that the long list of destroyed public and private properties in Lagos are: Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Secretariat, Palace of the Oba of Lagos; Lagos High Court, Igbosere; Oyingbo-BRT terminus; Ojodu Berger BRT terminus; Vehicle Inspection Office, Ojodu Berger; Lagos State Public Works Corporation, Ojodu Berger; Lagos City Hall and Circle Mall, Lekki; numerous luxury shops in Surulere, The Nation Newspaper, TVC and Shoprite Lekki including 27 BRT vehicles estimated to cost $200,000 each and another 57 BRT vehicles estimated to cost $100,000 each, all totalling about N3.9 billion.
“Alarmed that 25 police stations were reportedly burnt in Lagos: Orile, Amukoko, Layeni, llasamaja, Ikotun, Ajah, Igando, Elemoro, Makinde, Onipanu, Ebute Ero, Pen-Cinema, Isokoko, Alade, Cele, Igbo Elerin, Shibiri, Gbagada, Onilekere, Makoko, Daleko, Asahun, Makinyo, Amuwo-Odofin, Anti-Kidnapping, Surulere. Other police stations that were vandalised but not burnt were Ojo, Ojodu, Mowo, PPL and Morogbo.”
On his part, Senator Bassey urged the Senate to note that on the 23rd October 2020, a large crowd masquerading as #EndSARS protesters invaded and looted the Cross River State COVID-19 Palliative Warehouse located at Bishop Moinagh Street in Calabar, Cross River State.
The motion reads in part: “Further notes that as a result of the invasion of the COVId-19 Palliative Warehouse, the Cross River State Government imposed a 24-hour curfew in Calabar that started from 6 pm on the same 23rd October to avert further breakdown of law and order.
“Worried that despite the 24-hour curfew, a group of vandals on the next day being 24th October invaded over 120 properties in Calabar and vandalized, looted, burnt down some high value properties belonging to individuals, the State Government and Federal Government.
“Further worried that the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) Office, West African Examination Council (WAEC) Office, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Office, the brand new state of the art Calabar International Convention Centre (ICC), the sprawling Tinapa Business Resort, the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, the Infectious Diseases Hospital amongst others and private residence mostly of past and present Federal Law Makers were vandalized, looted or burnt.
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“Convinced that the mayhem of 24th October was an invasion of the sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it was premeditated, selective and targeted at highly valued Federal and State Government infrastructure and Federal Law Makers.
“Aware that the intervention of the military bases and security installations like the 13 Amphibious Brigade in Calabar, Eastern Naval Command in Calabar, NNS Victory in Calabar, 207 Special Mobility Airforce Unit in Calabar and Zone 6 Police Command in Calabar prevented the mayhem from spreading.
“Further aware that Cross River State being a predominantly Civil Service State may not overcome the effects of the invasion since the destroyed state infrastructure was built from lean state resources over years.”
In his contribution, Senator Sani Musa (Niger East) who seconded both motions said that the compensation and assistance being canvassed by the Senate should be extended to all victims of banditry in parts of the country and hoodlums that hijacked the #EndSARS protests both in Lagos, Calabar and other parts of the country.
Senator Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa West) urges the Senate to be wary of any remedy that may be prejudicial to the findings and recommendations of the various judicial panels already set up at state levels to investigate the mayhem that attended the #EndSARS protests.
Former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu urged the Federal Government to learn lessons from the #EndSARS protests.
“The lesson is that we have not done enough to protect the interests of young persons in this country.
We need to build industries to absorb qualified young men in the streets. Unless this is done we will continue to face this type of agitations,” he said:
He said that the country needs to consider the calls for the decentralisation of security in the country so that each state can raise and support the number of policemen that would adequately police them.