By Ushang Ewa
As residents of Calabar, the Cross River State capital continue to count the losses suffered between 23rd and 24th October 2020 following massive looting and destruction of properties, more condemnations have trailed the looting.
The Cross River State Public Advisory Committee, a project implementation arm of the Niger Delta Dialogue in a statement signed by its Secretary, Dominic Kidzu said the reign of criminality had not been seen before now.
The Cross River PAC said there was need for the security agencies to rise up to the challenge while urging governments to look beyond the measures announced so far especially on police brutality which sparked a protest weeks back.
“CRS – PAC notes with regret that although the legitimate protest, #EndSars embarked upon by the youth of Nigeria had been equitably assuaged by the federal authorities and the State government, hoodlums, miscreants and thieves still went ahead to invoke a reign of criminality in Calabar, the capital city, the sort that has never been seen before in the history of the state and indeed the country at large.
“We are pained by the fact that key infrastructure and services agencies, and indeed private companies and homes have been comprehensively devastated in a manner that will take the state at least one full year to rebuild. It is regrettable that a state that has been struggling with a dwindling economy with average expendable income plummeting to an all – time low is now saddled with the additional burden of rebuilding public infrastructure with funds that should have been invested on social welfare programs for the less privileged in the society.
“While commending the security agencies for their examplary restraint in the face of the wanton breakdown of law and order, CRS – PAC admonishes them to rise up to the occasion now and professionally restore the peace, law and order in the state capital.
“While we urge the federal government to go beyond the creation of SWAT by working with the National Assembly to affect structural changes in the nation to make it more manageable, we commiserate with the federal and state government for the loss of valuable property even as we sympathize with private individuals whose homes and sources of livelihood were also destroyed. It is the hope of CRS – PAC that normalcy will return to Calabar as soon as possible,” the statement read.
Also, the Cross River State branch of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria called on those looting to sheathe their swords as their message has been passed.
“I wholeheartedly feel and share in their pains that may have provoked the protests, however, having made their points loud and clear, I therefore appeal for restraint and call for calm and a stop to further destruction of property in the state,” read a statement signed by the Chairman, Pastor Lawrence Ekwok.
“This is especially so as public property belong to the people of Cross River state and not to any individual whether in government or out of government, just as it will not be fair to destroy property belonging to private persons or concerns who are contributing to the development of Cross River State.
“I am confident that our well -meaning youth will heed this call even as I pray that the Lord God Almighty will bless them and intervene speedily and restore peace to Cross River State in Jesus’ name, Amen!” the statement read.
One time Governor of the State, Mr. Donald Duke had in a statement over the weekend said the “harrowing” experience was symptomatic of a larger problem.
“The carnage, the looting and wanton dehumanization of human life graphically express the state of mind of our citizens, particularly our young folks.
“These events are symptomatic of a larger problem, that of inadequacy and the pain of citizen disillusionment. The evaporation of hope, the despair of a proud people with an uncertain future,” a statement signed by him read.
“This problem is not limited to our state, but a national problem that has been with us for a very long time. And now the cries of the oppressed are being heard not by tears, but their targeted action against their perceived oppressors and institutions of oppression. Symbolic but loud,” he wrote.
Duke said the Government’s acknowledgment of the hardship faced by the citizenry was a “healthy start,” and called for calm.
“Recently, the Government made a statement acknowledging the hardship the citizens are going through. This acknowledgement, though a healthy start, will require more. Indeed, far more from the government and perhaps more than the government on its own can afford. But we must not relent. Government will have to seek ingenious ways of meeting the aspirations of her people. This is a tall order, but the sooner we tackle this, the more assured we will be that we will have an environment and a polity that accommodates our wishes and aspirations.
“To our young people, your anguish has been heard loud and clear. Sheath your sword while we await the government to swing into action addressing the needs of her people. We are not a failed people. No, we are a people with failed aspirations. Nevertheless, there is hope, let’s hold on to that. God Bless our dear State,” he said.
Also, a footage obtained by CrossRiverWatch shows Senator Florence Ita-Giwa who is said to have fled her residence to a nearby hotel during the peak of the tension, kneeling down to plead with the youths, acknowledging in Efik that they as leaders had failed them.
She knelt at the Watt Roundabout referred to as ‘Itiad Udi Abasi Orok’ and said the only other time her knees were bended was during her coronation by the Obong of Calabar.
Despite the insecurity associated with that area, Ita-Giwa could be heard saying that the place for which she kneels is very iconic to the Efik Kingdom, known for sanity, non-violence and non tolerance for bloodshed.
“Please my children, we are not oblivious of the fact that we’ve wronged you, your country Nigeria has failed you, the elders have failed you but please stop the violence”, she said.
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