…Commends the youths for the peaceful protest
…As hoodlums raze Road Safety office, Beautification Garden in Asaba
By Festus Ahon
DELTA State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, Thursday declared 48 hours curfew across the State as tension heightened in major towns and cities of the State.
Suspected hoodlums had Wednesday night set ablaze the operational office of the Federal Road Safety, FRSC in Asaba and the Beautification Garden at Koka junction along the Benin-Asaba-Onitsha expressway in the capital city.
Okowa said the curfew would begin from 6pm today (Thursday), ordering the closure of all public and private primary and secondary schools till November 2, 2020
Apart from the curfew, the presentation of the 2021 budget estimates by Governor Okowa to the State House of Assembly, Thursday has been postponed.
Okowa in his broadcast said: “In all my communications with you in the last two weeks, I have consistently maintained that the #ENDSARS protest is a laudable one that has drawn national attention and outcry to the brutalities Nigerians, particularly the youths have endured in the hands of the now now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
“I commend our youths for rising to the occasion and organising themselves in such an impressive and spectacular fashion. The nation heard your voices loud and clear, and all that now remains is for both the National and sub-national governments to take the appropriate remedial measures, which includes embarking on total and comprehensive reform of the Nigerian Police and our governance systems.
“Unfortunately, unlike what we are seeing in the last two weeks, cases of arson, looting and other violent conducts have crept in. It does appear that the #ENDSARS protest have been hijacked by some misguided and opportunistic elements. This sad situation threatens to plunge the state into chaos and anarchy.
“It is a clear and present danger that we must stop from happening, only last night, some government buildings were burnt in Asaba.
“Following the directive of the National Economic Council, I have inaugurated a Judicial Panel of Enquiry to investigate cases of police brutality in Delta State as well as set up a Victims Support Fund. I am confident that justice will be served and grieving families will be able to have succour when the panel concludes their work.
“I therefore want to appeal to our youths to remain calm, law abiding and give peace a chance. I want you to consider yourselves as having won this battle, the government is on your side and we are committed to righting the wrongs of the past.
“However, for us to be able to do that, we need an atmosphere of peace and security. We obviously cannot make progress in an atmosphere of unease, when public buildings are being torched, roads are being blocked, and when citizens are not allowed to go about their normal businesses.
“I urge our youths to please leave the streets, sheathe their swords and monitor the response from the government. I also appeal to parents and guardians to ensure that their children and wards are properly accounted for.
“I urge our traditional rulers and opinion leaders to please lend their voice to this appeal and our various youth leaders and mobilisers and influencers even in the social media, its a time for us to have a rethink.
“Our cause is just and we agree but as a state it is the responsibility of all of us to defend our state and we do not want unscrupulous elements many of whom have come from other states to destroy that which every one of us have laboured for.
“From all intelligence reports, the people who caused the crisis of last night are not from Delta State but the opportunities of the protests have given rise to this.
“I want to please appeal to the conscience of our youths, while we have the right to air our grievances, I believe that we all collectively need to defend our state, we need to be able to conserve resources even at this very critical time of global economic downturn.
“We cannot afford to allow miscreants from other states to destroy that which we have built over the past few years. The security of the state is a shared responsibility and one that we must all take very seriously.
“Once again I congratulate our youths for pursuing a worthy cause and I implore them to embrace peace and dialogue at this moment and please I implore them to give government a chance to address the wrongs and to address the recommendations that they have made.
“I also want to use this opportunity to call on the youth leadership to please make themselves available for us to dialogue and to ensure that they are part of the processes of the Judicial Panel of Enquiry into the brutalities of the Nigerian police, particularly the defunct SARS.
“I believe that when they cooperate, with the Judicial Panel on cases of brutality and killings are brought to the fore, then and only then, can the government attempt to grieving families and also ensure that those police men who are directly and indirectly involved are brought to book.
“As I congratulate you, I pray that we all continue to pray for our dear state Delta. In the meantime, I have ordered the closure of all Public and Private Primary and Secondary schools in Delta State until Monday November 2, 2020.
“And because of the incident that took place last night, I herby impose a 48-hour curfew starting 6pm today October 22, 2020.
“It therefore means that every body is expected to seat at home excepting those on very essential service in the next 48 hours starting 6pm today. Thereafter, we will review the situation and know what next to take.
“I appeal to our youths for cooperation, it is not about you, it is not about the protest that you have started. We believe in your cause and we support your cause, but unfortunately, the process is already being hijacked by criminals.
“A lot of robberies took place along the express way, by those who ordinarily shouldn’t have been part of the protest because the protest was well intended but unfortunately these criminal elements have hijacked the process. I want to thank all Deltans for their continuing cooperation and pray that together, we will overcome this”.