The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio on Saturday led a delegate from the Federal government to Akwa Ibom State where he urged youths and other stakeholders in the Niger Delta region to embrace peace in the wake of the crises occasioned by the End SARS protests.
Addressing the youths in Uyo, Akpabio flanked by the Senior Special Assistant on Niger Delta, Senator Ita Enang, the Federal Commissioner in the Federal Character Commission, Mrs Dorothy Ebong and the Executive Director of Finance and Administration in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Mr Effiong Akwa said they were in Akwa Ibom on the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari to chat a new course.
In a statement, the minister noted that peaceful protest is an integral part of democracy and commended President Muhammadu Buhari for acceding to all the demands of the protesting youths and promising comprehensive reforms that would make the Nigeria Police more responsive to the citizenry.
He, however, appealed to the youths of the Niger Delta to embrace dialogue in addressing any grievance as the administration implements far-reaching reforms to reposition the region for infrastructural development.
He further appealed to the youths of the region to continue to support the administration of President Buhari to bring development to the region.
Senator Akpabio also commended the State Governors who have set up Judicial Commissions of Enquiry and Restitution which would investigate cases of Police brutality and urged victims of Thursday’s looting and arson in Uyo to register their complaints with the commission for possible restitution.
The statement reads in parts, “In any democracy, protest is legitimate and indeed considered an integral part of its value but the right to protest must not be allowed to infringe on the right of others or dovetail into endangering the lives and properties of other citizens. This is what the current protest has unfortunately metamorphosed into.
“SARS brutality which gave rise to the protest is something all well-meaning people should condemn and strenuously seek an end to as well as compensation for the victims. On these, all tiers of Governments have agreed, starting with the Inspector General of Police who first announced the disbandment of SARS as well as the much-publicized speeches of the President who concurred with the ban on SARS and strongly dedicates the line of action towards general Police reforms, hence the five-point agenda demanded by the genuine protesters are being addressed sincerely by both the Federal and State Governments.
“Let me commend the State Governors who have set up Judicial Commissions of Enquiry and Restitution which would investigate cases of Police brutality and take steps to make restitution to victims and families who had suffered such unfortunate fate across the nation.
“The widespread lootings, arsons, and other shades of violence in some states in the Niger Delta remain a source of concern. The scale of destruction which pervaded Uyo, Port Harcourt, Benin and other cities so far calls for vigilance on the part of residents in the Region and a rededication of the State Governments to the responsibility of protection of lives and properties,”
Also speaking, Ita Enang who condemned the hijack of the peaceful protest urged youths in the Niger Delta region to key into some of the social intervention programmes of the Federal Government.
He, however, commended Governor Udom Emmanuel on his quick response in imposing curfew after the Thursday carnage in Uyo, which according to him, helped the Security agencies in arresting the looters and making recoveries as well as bringing peace and sanity to the State.
Earlier, Akpabio and his entourage visited the state secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) where hoodlums had vandalized and donated some money for the renovation and purchase of computers and generators which were carted away by the vandals.