The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has appealed to the youths and other stakeholders in the Niger Delta Region to maintain the peace in the region in the aftermath of the crises occasioned by the #EndSARS protests.
Senator Akpabio made the plea at a high powered meeting with the youths and other stakeholders in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State at the weekend.
In the Minister’s entourage were the Senior Special Assistant to the President 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.
According to Senator Akpabio, the economic importance of the Niger Delta Region as the economic live wire of the nation cannot be overemphasized, maintaining that the development of the region and indeed Nigeria as a whole can only be achieved in an atmosphere of dialogue and peace.
Senator Akpabio 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 Nigerian Police more responsive to the citizenry and addressing issues of welfare, service conditions and training.
According to Senator Akpabio, “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 restitutions 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,” he said.
He urged the youths of the Niger Delta Region to continue to support the administration of President Buhari to bring development to the region.
Senator Akpabio appealed to the youths of the Niger Delta Region to embrace dialogue in addressing any grievances as the administration of President Buhari implements far reaching reforms to reposition the region for infrastructural development.
Senator Akpabio and his entourage also 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.