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Wiping tears off ENDSARS victims’ faces


Those who lost their loved ones and properties to the ENDSARS protests are yet to come to terms with why they should be victims of the destruction of such magnitude. OZIEGBE OKOEKI examines efforts to mitigate their sufferings.

For three days, victims of the #EndSARS protest who lost loved ones, or whose properties and businesses were vandalised or destroyed across the three senatorial districts in Lagos converged on the Lagos State House of Assembly Complex for a stakeholders’ meeting.

The meeting was at the instance of the state Assembly that had, on October 26, set up a nine-man Ad-Hoc Committee to investigate the level of destruction of properties and loss of lives to determine compensation for the victims.

One of the victims, Shade Salami advised that the perpetrators should be brought to justice to serve as a deterrent to others who might have such a sinister motive.

Mr Olugbenga Oresajo, another victim whose shopping mall was destroyed urged the committee to give a timeline that would stipulate how long the process would last.

Adeola Alaka, a victim from Bode Thomas said the areas that were affected should be barricaded to distinguish other parts in the same vicinity not damaged.

The victims, especially from Agege and Fagba, who appeared on the last day called on the state government to dislocate miscreants from the railway line and other parts of the state to avoid a repeat of the protests that wreaked havoc in the state and all over the country.

Mrs. Bisi Mohammed from Fagba said her house was burnt and that she didn’t have anything to show as evidence, which was why she could not present her cases properly in the form provided by the Assembly.

The Iyaloja of Daddy Savage Market, Fagba, and Mrs. Oladoyinbo Toyin said she would like the government to help the marketers as some of them lost their voters cards in the inferno.

Oladoyinbo also suggested that the government should remove the shanties around Fagba area, adding that someone was killed around the area by hoodlums the previous day.

Another resident from Fagba, Mr. Oluwamayowa Ilori said they were seriously affected by the violence and that this was due to many miscreants in the area.

Ilori stressed that it was difficult for people to go out early or go back home late in the area without being attacked.

His view was corroborated by the Babaloja of Olaitan Market in Fagba, Mr. Ojo Ademuyiwa, who said there are several hoodlums along the railway line in Fagba and that they used the opportunity to loot the shops in the area and set them ablaze.

Mr. Junaid Adekola from Blue Carnival Hotel, Ekoro Road said the hotel was vandalised.

He said the management of the hotel went to Agbado Oke Odo Local Government secretariat to complain but that nothing was done about the matter.

Mr. Tola Lawal from Ikotun/Idimu Local Council Development Area said the incident affected them much in Idimu Road.

Lawal suggested that the forms should be given to the actual people that were affected and that the incidents happened close to the police stations and local government secretariat.

Another resident of the district, Mrs. Christiana Obasi Nwachukwu, said two shops belonging to her husband were looted; a situation which she said led to his death.

“He was shocked because of the destruction of the shops. He died at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital. Now I don’t have the documents the government wanted me to bring and I have five children to cater for,” she said.

Alhaja Olabisi Amisu, a resident of Agege area also said that her shop was burnt.

She said she sells clothes, jewellery and that her cabinet got burnt, adding that the items were worth over N2.9 million.

“We want the state government to help us because we don’t have anything. Someone came from the executive and someone came from an agency to inspect the burnt shops,” she said.

Mr. Oluyemi Samson from LASACO Assurance Plc urged the residents that have lost their documents of identification, to get affidavits for loss of documents.

Speaker Mudashiru Obasa said the committee would review the cases of those who lost their belongings and wares with a view to offering support to them by the government, while also assuring that the committee will work with the executive in working out modalities for compensation to all victims, adding that the primary aim of the exercise is to mitigate the losses suffered by people.

The committee is chaired by Deputy Speaker Wasiu Sanni-Eshinlokun, while other members are Abiodun Tobun, Rotimi Olowo, Ajani Owolabi, Ganiyu Okanlawon, Victor Akande, Rasheed Makinde, Ibrahim Layode and Akeem Shokunle.

Its terms of reference are interfacing with the victims, relevant stakeholders and community leaders; ascertain the level of destruction; determine the level of compensation and restitution where necessary, and make recommendations towards preventing future occurrence of such incidents.

The three senatorial districts took their turns on different days to appear before the House. Victims from Lagos Central Senatorial District were attended to on Wednesday; those from Lagos East Senatorial District were attended to on Thursday, while those from Lagos West Senatorial District were attended to on Friday.

Before the stakeholders’ meeting, the committee had sent out forms to those whose properties were destroyed across the 40 constituencies.

The chairman said: “The House has been receiving forms submitted by those affected. This will be the foundation of our consideration. We shall be leveraging on the knowledge and experiences of the experts such as architects, and insurance, just to mention a few that will help in assessing the extent of damage and make decisions on how to assuage the pains of our people.”

Eshinlokun-Sanni said on the first day of the stakeholders’ meeting that the House was making a giant stride to complement other efforts of the government.

He, however, said the committee was different from the judicial panel set up by the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu. He explained that the latter was meant to unravel brutality of the police and what led to the shootings at Lekki Tollgate.

• Cross section of victims and stakeholders in attendance

“Even in the heat of being in the opposition for 16 years, Lagos didn’t falter; instead, we rose and shone. This is another phase, another challenge, another setback. Lagos State shall rise again and shine brighter than ever.

“We shall be leveraging on the knowledge and experiences of the experts we have invited, such as architects, insurance, among others in assessing the details and making decisions on how to assuage the pains of our people,” he said.

He assured that “after the Lekki incident, we cannot leave our people; we should find ways and means of mitigating the effects of their losses. The primary purpose of the government is the security of lives and properties. When such happens, the government must take control and mitigate the suffering of the people.

“The work of our committee is to see how the events after the Lekki shootings affected our people and how we can put them back to work so that they will not suffer more losses. Already, we had COVID-19 pandemic during the year.”

He added that when such an incident occurred “there would be a reduction in foreign direct investment into the country and in the state due to the alleged unsafe environment. There would also be a capital flight from the country. What we are trying to do is to restore confidence into our people.”

The Deputy Speaker further stated that “where the people have insurance cover, they would be compensated; where they don’t have, they would still be compensated.”

Eshilokun-Sanni assured the victims of adequate compensation.

He, however, said the next stage of the exercise is compilation and verification of claims, and that the intention of the Assembly is to make ensure that compensations are paid to the affected people because “we represent all of them, and we assure them of fairness and equity. The House will attend to all genuine victims,” Eshilokun-Sanni said.

He said the Assembly would make budgetary allocations for money to be paid. “We will do our best and assist you in our own way; we want to perform our duty and identify with you about the incident.

“It is the duty of the government to intervene in such situations. You will soon hear from us about the money we want to give you,” he said.

While assuring them that the committee would attend to all genuine residents, he said the compensation will come as early as possible.

Eshinlokun-Sanni added that the lawmakers felt they could not leave the people to their fate.

He said: “If you did insurance cover, LASACO is here to assist you. We will do our best to ensure that you are well compensated.

“We will also make budgetary allocations for money to be paid. We will do our best and assist you in our own way. We want to perform our duty and identify with you about the incident.

“It is the duty of the government to intervene in such situations. You will soon hear from us about the money we want to give you.”

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