The events that have taken over our state and by extension Nigeria within the past 2 weeks regarding the END SARS protests and its aftermath are such that call for concerns in their entirety.
You will recall that this House of Assembly was the first in the nation to identify with the cause of the youths asking for an end to police brutality in the nation. We unanimously threw our weight behind their movement by even coming up with lofty resolutions that were meant to readily address their agitations.
It is regrettable to learn that the peaceful protest was not only hijacked by unpatriotic elements who don’t mean well for the populace, but also brutally ended with the use of force that took place at Lekki Toll Gate on Oct 20. The single incident has reportedly led to loss of lives and belongings, while some are also wounded.
While I may not say much about the Lekki Toll Gate as investigation to the event is ongoing, its aftermath, however, which has brought about wanton destruction of both private and government property, enterprises, arson and looting all over the country, particularly in our dear state, is pathetic.
Last Saturday, while on a visit to some of the areas affected by the dastardly actions of the hoodlums who took advantage of the protest against the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), I cannot but feel really bad about the level of destruction in the state.
Some of the areas I visited, in company of some members of this honourable House, include the Lagos High Court, BRT Oyingbo Terminal, Fagba, Isokoko and Pen Cinema Police Stations, Oba Akiolu Palace, City Hall and Public Works Corporation. The level of ruins in all these places mentioned is beyond imagination.
Let me use this medium to remind us that Lagos State being a mini-Nigeria has always maintained a very respected Let me use this medium to remind us that Lagos State being a mini-Nigeria has always maintained a very respected place in the country as well in Africa. Lagos is a state that harbours everyone notwithstanding their nativity, political or religious affiliation.
May I let us know that it will not do us any good to continue in this act of careless destruction and bringing hardship to everyone around us. In fact, looting government and private properties will lead to more hardships for us.
Lagos State belongs to all of us and we should strive to protect its properties, people and the heritage that binds us together as a people. Permit me to use this opportunity to appeal to all Lagosians that we should do all we can to move away from any form of further destruction.
Having said that, I also urge the state government to do all it can within its ambit to fish out all the unscrupulous elements who were involved in the looting and destruction all over Lagos, thereby making sure that they face the wrath of law accordingly.
At the same time, the state government must employ everything within its capacity to forestall the recurrence of such destruction in future. The state government also needs to take a step further to empower and strengthen the Neighbourhood Safety Corps with all the paraphernalia of security outfits. Also, I think if there is any time for our agitation for state police to be given utmost attention, it is now.
As a House of Assembly, we aware of the effects of the social media on the overall incident. Hence, I urge everyone of us to verify information properly before sharing. Fake news will do us more harm than good. It is on this note that I commiserate with all the people who have been affected in one way or the other as a result of the actions and inactions orchestrated by the protests.
My heartfelt condolences go to all the families who have lost their loved ones. Particularly, I am touched by the level of carnage carried out at the Oba Akiolu’s palace, being our ancestral seat of power. It is saddening and disheartening to learn that such heinous activities could be perpetrated by these miscreants and vandals, leading to wanton desecration of our traditional heritage in Lagos.
I also sympathise with the judiciary, all the lawyers whose offices were vandalised and looted as well as all our law enforcement officers. I will like to bring it to our notice that a committee has already been set up that will review cases of those who lost their belongings and wares with a view to supporting them by the government. I assure you all that this Assembly will join with the Executive in working out compensation modality for all victims.
Let me reiterate the position of the government on SARS, albeit. This police unit has been disbanded for good as we have been told by the Federal Government. However, citizens should rest assured that all officers culpable in any form of police brutality will indeed be brought to book.
I urge all Lagosians to imbibe the spirit of oneness. We should not allow the circumstances around us cause any division. Let us all come together to rebuild our Lagos. And as the representatives of the people, we will continue to be on their side and always represent their interest towards developing our dear state.