The Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri and the leadership of the umbrella body of Ijaw Youths Worldwide, Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) on Saturday declared their supports for the ongoing protest against police brutality across the country exemplified by the hashtags #EndSARS and #EndSWAT, saying his administration would not condone acts that infringed on the fundamental rights of citizens in the state.
Gov. Diri who marched with the protesters through the popular Melford Okilo road on Saturday morning said that as a firm advocate against all forms of police brutality, he moved motions as a federal legislator against extra-judicial killings and illegal detention of persons in the state.
The governor, who was returning from inspection tour of communities ravaged by flood when he met the protesting youths said “in 2016, I moved a motion as member of the House of Representatives against extra-judicial killings in Bayelsa.
“Also, in 2018, I moved another motion in the House for the release of one Collins Opumie from Southern Ijaw that was arrested by the DSS and detained in an underground cell for many years until it came to my knowledge. He was eventually released after that motion.
“So, I am one hundred per cent in support of you. In a democracy, power belongs to the people. Power belongs to you the youths. You have every right to protest and nobody can stop you from protesting,” he told the cheering crowd.
While commending the protesters for their peaceful conduct, Senator Diri promised to address the demands within his powers and channel others to the appropriate quarters at the federal level and thereafter marched with the protesters to the state police headquarters and was received by the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mike Okoli.
Speaking at the force headquarters, Governor Diri directed the state police boss to immediately release a youth that was allegedly arrested during the protest, saying citizens had an inalienable right to peaceful protest.
On his part, the Commissioner of Police thanked the youths for conducting themselves in a peaceful manner and urged them to maintain the tempo.
Mr. Okoli reassured that the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) remained disbanded as announced by the Inspector General of Police and promised that any officer caught infringing on the fundamental human rights of Nigerian youths would be dealt with according to the law.
Speaking earlier on behalf of the protesters, Comrade Mathew Ayibakuro called on the governor to set up a judicial panel of inquiry to look into cases of police brutality in the state with representatives of the youths and civil society organisations.
Comrade Ayibakuro also called for the establishment of a Bayelsa State security and human rights committee, a victim compensation fund, the reform and adequate funding of the police among other demands.
Meanwhile, the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) through its spokesperson, Comrade Ebilade Ekerefe, declared that Ijaw Youths across the Niger Delta region and worldwide are in support of the ongoing nationwide protest against police brutality, describing it as a metaphor for a structured Nigeria and not just an end to police brutality.
In his words “Ijaw Youths Council are very much concerned over the ongoing nationwide EndSars protests and we are monitoring the unfolding events as a region and take appropriate action in days to come.For us in the IYC, the EndSars protest is a metaphor for a restructured and reorganized Nigeria and there is no better time than now.
“Now is the time to bring back the 2014 National CONFAB REPORT for its full implementation in the interest of peace, unity and political stability in the Country. This is not the time to joke with things that matters. President Muhammadu Buhari has an opportunity to making history, an history that will consume us or an history that will reposition the Country for excellence and become a statesman after power.
“This nationwide protest is coming at a time the people of the Niger Delta are been provoked with the sale of N5 billion gold bar to the CBN by the Zamfara state government when the people of the Niger Delta has no access or control to our oil and gas mineral resources. Our ecosystem upon which our livelihood depends on is completely destroyed as a result of oil spillage and gas flaring which has greatly affected the life expectancy rate of our people, yet the government don’t care.”
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