The Senate has advised the Federal Government to evolve and implement holistic reforms in the Nigerian Police Force.
According to the upper chamber, employing more able bodied personnel, injecting more financial resources for the purpose of procuring arms, ammunition and other policing gadgets, as well undertaking regular training would ensure efficient policing in the country.
The call on the federal government was part of the recommendations contained in the 69 page report of the Joint Committee on National Security and Intelligence; Defence; Police Affairs; Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters on the mayhem visited on the Ancient City of Calabar during the EndSARS Protest on 23rd and 24th of October, 2020.
Chairman of the Joint Committee, Senator Ibrahim Gobir, in his presentation, said that Investigative Hearings by the Committee revealed that the violence in Calabar metropolis during the protest which led to the looting and destruction of private and government-owned properties was “largely spontaneous with no identified goals, leaders, sponsors or financiers”.
“It was a free reign for amorphous groups, gangs and criminals”, he said.
The lawmaker disclosed that one of the victims of the protest, Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw, who appeared before the Committee, narrated his ordeal saying that it took a miracle to get him, his wife and daughter out from the mob which vandalized its way right into his bedroom.
Henshaw stated before the Committee that the attacks were deliberately orchestrated by some politicians who perceived them as political enemies.
He also attributed the violence to the displacement of the people of Bakassi as a result of ceding their homelands to the Republic of Cameroon, a situation which turned some of them into militants.
The former lawmaker said that the #endsars protest was used as an opportunity by the militants to unleash mayhem on the city of Calabar.
He further disclosed that he lost properties to the tune of N9,302,660,000 billion to the protest.
In addition, the Joint Committee stated in the report that a total of forty-one (41) government properties were vandalized by hoodlums during the #endsars protest around Calabar municipal and neighboring Bakassi, Odukpani and Akpabuyo Local Government Areas of Cross River State.
The Joint Committee in its findings revealed that at the time of the invasion of homes, the Security Agencies failed to promptly respond to distress calls from victims, adding that several victims got hint of the planned attacks before the actual acts.
According to the panel, the Police, Department of State Services and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps were overwhelmed by the sheer number of the protesters who unleashed mayhem on the city of Calabar.
The Joint Committee said it was also alleged by the Police before it that the force lacked adequate personnel, vehicles, arms, ammunitions and other tactical equipment for effective policing of the city of Calabar;
It stated that the Police claimed that 106 suspects were arrested, 90 percent of which were indigenes of Akwa Ibom extraction including 2 Females.
The Joint Committee observed that the Internally Displaced persons of Bakassi Peninsular have not been resettled by the Federal Government, neither has any kind of respite given to them.
It added that among those notable leaders whose property and businesses were attacked were former Governors of the State; His Excellency, Sen. Liyel Imoke, His Excellency, Mr. Donald Duke; serving and former Senators from the State, Senator Gershom Bassey, Senator Victor Ndoma Egba, Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw and a member of the House of Representatives, Etta Mbora.
The Joint Committee disclosed that the financial value of the vandalised property/items were also submitted by the affected persons verified by the Committee set up by the Governor amounting to the tune of N73,069,634,61 5.70 ( Seventy-Three Billion, Sixty-Nine Million, Six Hundred and Thirty-Four Thousand, Six Hundred and Fifteen Naira, Seventy Kobo only);
According to the panel, a letter was written to Mr. President by the Governor of Cross River State, Senator (Prof) Ben Ayade requesting for support/funds in the sum of N73,069,634,61 5.70 only, to enable the State rebuild, reconstruct and compensate individuals and groups who had lost property.
Accordingly, the Senate in its recommendations underscored the need for regular and purposeful training of personnel of the Security Agencies to be in tandemn with international best practices.
It called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to give priority in terms of security to Cross River State considering the peculiarity of the State with very large land mass.
The chamber observed that the over 6,000 Cameroon refugees, influx of Ambazonian Army at the border with Cameroon, the large number of militants and those granted Amnesty by the State Government but yet to be integrated into the National Amnesty programme, constitute imminent threat to the Cross River State Security.
It further recommended that the Federal Government should evolve and implement holistic reforms in the Nigeria Police Force that aimed at: Employing more able bodied personnel; Providing adequate vehicles to the various Commands; Injecting more financial resources; Procurement of adequate and relevant arms, ammunitions and other policing gadgets; and Regular, adequate and strategic trainings to be in tandem with International best practices.
“These will ensure and guarantee effective and efficient policing and coverage of the polity”, the chamber said.
The Senate also recommended that educational programmes and curriculum should be geared towards inculcating functional education in the individuals; empowering them with academic, technical and vocational capabilities.
The Senate also advised the Cross River State Government to hold regular State Security Council Meetings to ensure total safety of its citizens and their property, as well as treat the regular Intelligence Report of the DSS with utmost dispatch.
It urged the Amnesty Office and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to provide relief materials and assistance to the victims of the mayhem.
It further advised the Cross River State Government to support the State Security bureaucracy financially and with equipments to make it more purposeful and effective, adding, “there must be a synergy between the State Government and all the Federal Government Security Agencies domiciled and operating in the State for robust interchange and comprehensive deliverables.”
The Senate also resolved to transmit the cost of N34,255,427,822.44 billion naira; and N10,927,321,757.50 billion naira to the Cross River State Government as amount to defray the cost of rebuilding and reconstructing vandalized and looted property belonging to private individuals and federal government agencies, respectively
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