FG, Duke, Henshaw, others lost over N45bn worth of property in Calabar #EndSARS protest — Senate

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The Senate has disclosed that the Federal government agencies, the Cross River State government and some private individuals lost property worth over N45 billion to the #EndSARS Protest in the State.

The Senate said yesterday 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 Senate, it has 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.

The Senate said 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.

For former Governors Donald Duke, it was N200,000,000.00; Senator Liyel Imoke, N506, 989, 380.00; Senator Victor Ndoma Egba, N1,500,000,000 .00; Senator Bassey Ewa – Henshaw, N9,302,660, 000.00; Senator Gershom Bassey, N4,089,780,000.00; Honourable Eta Mbora, N150,000,000 .00; Other Victims, N12, 137,455,655.90.

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 as 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.

In his presentation, Chairman of the Joint Committee, Senator Ibrahim Gobir 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”, Gobir said.

The Committee also in its recommendation, asked the Federal Government to come to the aid of the Cross River State Government by the provision of funds to defray the cost of rebuilding and reciting the vandalized property valued at N34,255,427,822.45 (Thirty-Four Billico, Two Hundred and Fifty-Five Million Four Hundred and Twenty Seven Thousand Eight Hundred Twenty-Two Naira, Twenty Seven Kobo) only.

Also in the report, the Committee recommended that the Federal Government should provide funds for the reception and rebuilding of vandalized and looted property of all the Felmal Geminent Cross River State valued at N10,927.321.757.50 Tem Hundred and Twenty Sex Million, Three Hundred and Twenty One Thousand, Seven Hundred and Fifty-Seven Naira Fifty Kobo) Only:

According to the Senators, 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 that 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, just as 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 neighbouring 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 hints 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, ammunition and other tactical equipment for effective policing of the city of Calabar;

It stated that the Police claimed that 106 suspects were arrested, 90 per cent 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, nor has any kind of respite given to them.

According to the panel, a letter was written to Mr President by the Governor of Cross River State, Senator (Prof) Ben Ayade requesting support/funds in the sum of N73,069,634,61 5.70 only, to enable the State to 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 tandem 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 a very large landmass.

The chamber observed that the over 6,000 Cameroon refugees, the 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 an 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 training 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 curricula 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 the 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 equipment 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.”