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#EndSARS protests: Senate seeks special fund for Lagos, others

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#endsars-protests:-senate-seeks-special-fund-for-lagos,-others

By Sanni Onogu, Abuja

The Senate on Tuesday mulled a Special Economic Assistance fund to assist Lagos and other states worst hit by the vandalism and destructions that trailed the #EndSARS protests.

It, therefore, wants the Federal Government to set aside all revenues collected as Value Added Tax (VAT) for the purpose.

The suggestion followed the consideration of two motions sponsored by Senators Biodun Olujimi and   Gershom Bassey.  .

Olujimi’s motion was titled: “#EndSARS protests: Urgent need for the Federal Government to assist Lagos State Government in rebuilding its infrastructure” while that of Bassey was : “Mayhem visited on the Ancient City of Calabar, the first capital of Nigeria on 23rd and 24th October 2020.”

The two prayers in Olujimi’s motion were :

*“Urge the Federal Government to set up a visitation panel to assess the level of destruction of public and private assets in Lagos State, and

*“Urge the Federal Government to establish a Special Economic Assistance for  Lagos State in recognition of its strategic socio-economic significance by paying a financial grant-in-aid of not less than one percent of the share of revenue allocated to the Federal Government  in the Federation Account each year.”

The Senate however amended the prayers by extending the call   to other affected states across the country.

It also approved the prayers in Bassey’s motion after amending them to reflect other states that witnessed the mayhem.

Bassey’s  prayers read: “Condemim the attacks on private and public properties in Calabar on the 23rd and 24th October 2020;

“Mandate the Committee on National Security and Intelligence, Defence, Police Affairs, Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to investigate the invasion of the ancient city of Calabar on the 24th day of October 2020.”

Olujimi, in her lead debate, urged the Senate to note that the #EndSARS protests, which assumed a global dimension, began on 3 October, 2020, when the video of a Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) officer who allegedly shot a young Nigerian in Ughelli, Delta State, surfaced online.

She further asked her colleagues to note that on Wednesday 7 October 2020, youths in Lagos State set out for a three-day protest to call for the disbandment of  SARS unit of the Nigeria Police Force, as part of the push for reforms in the unit.”

On his part,   Bassey urged the Senate to note that on the 23rd October 2020, a large crowd masquerading as EndSARS protesters invaded and looted the Cross River State COVID-19 palliative warehouse in Calabar.

In his contribution, Senator Sani Musa , who seconded both motions said that the compensation and assistance being canvassed by the Senate should be extended to all victims of hoodlums and  banditry   in all parts of the country.

Senator Abdullahi Adamu however  urged the Senate to be wary of any remedy that may be prejudicial to the findings and recommendations of the various judicial panels in the states.

Former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, urged the Federal Government to learn lessons from the #EndSARS protests.

He said: “The lesson is that we have not done enough to protect the interests of young persons in this country.

“We need to build industries to absorb qualified young men in the streets. Unless this is done we will continue to face this type of agitations.”

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