The governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, has imposed a 48-hour curfew in the state following Wednesday night’s arson and destruction of government property in Asaba by some youth “disguising as protesters.”
He also announced the closure of public and private primary and secondary schools in the state until November 2, 2020.
Mr Okowa made this known in a statewide broadcast in Asaba on Thursday, saying that the curfew would commence at 6 pm on Thursday, a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES, revealed
He said that the peaceful protests by #ENDSARS protesters had been hijacked by suspected criminals, and stated that the state government would not watch the elements to have a field day.
The governor commended the #ENDSARS protesters for their peaceful conduct, but appealed to them to give peace a chance by allowing the government to address their demands.
He also appealed to parents and guardians to ensure that their children and wards were properly accounted for, and urged traditional rulers and opinion leaders to lend their voices to the appeal.
The governor urged youth leaders, community mobilisers and social media influencers, to have a rethink on the protest in the interest of the nation.
“My dear people of Delta State, it has become necessary for me to address you following the unfortunate turn of events in our nation.
“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 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 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 has 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,’’ he said.
Mr Okowa stated that following the directive of the National Economic Council, he had inaugurated a Judicial Panel of Enquiry to investigate cases of police brutality in the State, and had also set up a Victims Support Fund.
He expressed confidence that justice would be served and that grieving families would be able to have succour when the panel concluded its work.
The governor appealed to the 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.
“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 has 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,’’ the governor said.
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