Say affected persons can seek redress
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, Thursday, cautioned Federal Government on implications over alleged freezing of bank accounts belonging to #EndSARS protest promoters.
Speaking with Vanguard on the implications of the alleged freezing of bank accounts suspected to be sources of sponsoring the peaceful #EnSARS protest that was later hijacked by miscreants, which led to burning of public and private structures including looting and killings, the National Coordinator of Niger Delta Youth Congress, NDYC, Comrade Israel Uwejeyan said, “The move by the Federal government through the central bank of Nigeria, to block the accounts of End SARS advocates is despicable, tyrannical and infuriating.
“The government should focus on solving the problems that are causing these uprising, major of which is the police brutality, extrajudicial killings, poverty, and unemployment instead of going after certain individuals.
“You cannot stop an idea whose time has come, Nigerian Youths are tired of corrupt, oppressive, repressive, and clueless regimes. Enough is enough! We expected the government to engage the youths diplomatically with all sincerity for the purpose of finding lasting solutions to the menace that have plagued this Nation for sixty years rather than employ the isolation and intimidation tactics that will further add salt to injury and spur the #EndSARS movement to take her operations underground.”
READ ALSO: ICC’s Inquiry into crimes committed during #EndSARS Protest, a welcome development — CSOs
Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, CDNDC, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, said, “Blocking bank accounts of #ENDSARS promoters by the Buhari regime is not only petty, it is worrisome and totally condemnable, it should be discontinued forthwith, and while the government through the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, tenders an open apology to the concerned.
“This illegal and unconscionable profiling of #EndSARS supporters account was actually plotted to intimidate and discourage a similar action in future, but it will fail and will rather embolden them to do more, and I can tell the government that, if another round of protests that require funding happens, the youths will found their way around it.
“Also the Banks that have carried out this terrible order will most likely suffer the consequence of people moving their accounts to other banks because it would be interpreted as a betrayal of trust.
“I dare say that if the government has compiled names of protesters, so as to stop some of them from leaving the country, it is a clear violation of their rights and an invitation to a further distrust, the youths may have no option than to compile the names of families of these leaders in foreign countries and seek their deportation.”
The Founder and President, One Love Foundation, Chief Patrick Eholor, said, “How dare President Muhammadu Buhari to shut people’s account who brought #EndSARS to bearing or to light when he knows 22 police officers lost their lives and a lot of lives were lost due to the army massacre in Lekki Toll Gate, a lot of innocent people’s property was carted away, burnt and destroyed all over the country and his concern is to punish southerners as usual. We will test the law to see if this country is actually a governing country or a republic.
“The implication is that people will go back to the streets and protest their rights, as usual, have a civil unrest and that will lead to an uprising.”
The Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Auwal Rafsanjani, said, “If the government genuinely blocks anybody’s account let the person seek redress in court. I think we should be very careful not to spoil a genuine course and also not to cover up criminals. There are different people who joined #EndSARS with different motives. Anybody who is promoting #EndSARS genuinely should come out and go to court and seek redress.
“How come many Nigerians who came out openly like me to promote #EndSARS were not among those whose bank accounts were not blocked because I did not see anybody who supported #EndSARS bank accounts were blocked including a popular musician who met with the Inspector General of Police, he has not come out to say his bank account was blocked.
“So it is important we distinguish those with a well established criminal case and suspicious accounts and those who genuinely promoted #EndSARS protest are now victimized we need to collectively condemn it and that that kind of action cannot happen to them because they supported #EndSARS protest.
“Everybody including government believes that #EndSARS protest was a genuine course. I was one of the people who supported the peaceful #EndSARS protest and my views were on the media and we should understand that it is not because you joined EndSARS and should not be investigated and we should not undermine genuine work of government if it is done sincerely.
“We need to do an investigation to know whether there were underlying issues that call for security attention. The investigation should be done because we don’t want anybody to hide under #EndSARS protests or promoters.
“I have not been blocked and anybody that I know as well has not been blocked, also a lot of people have traveled and their documents not ceased or being hunted.”
The Country Director, Ene Obi, said, “Blocking their accounts means blocking of freedom and the youths are angry and the government is still doing things that are inimical.
“If they want to show truly listened to the voices of the young people that came to the streets they should stop harassing people who participated and they have listened to them.
“I want them to unblock the accounts they have blocked. They should also remember that they won’t be in the world forever.
“For ActionAid, we stand in solidarity with those who participated in EndSARS protest against corruption in Nigerian, and still protest on different things in Nigeria, and the struggle continues.”
Director of Programmes, CAPPA, Philip Jakpor, said, “If proven to be true, it is unfortunate that the government is taking this infamous and unpopular route. The present administration must learn from antecedents.
“There is nowhere that muzzling of the right to demand good governance has worked and it won’t here also. What the government is inadvertently doing is angering Nigerians and emboldening the youth to resist these repressive tactics that remind us of our sad military past. It is unacceptable in today’s world
“Nigeria is belittling itself and sending a wrong signal to the committee of civilized and democratic nations. It is a direct threat to our fledgling democracy.”
The Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, HOMEF, Nnimmo Bassey, said, “There are many things that do not add up in the unfolding events we are reading about. In a democracy, the minimum we expect is that persons whose accounts are being investigated should be formally notified by the relevant agencies of the government taking such actions.
“Actions of this nature when taken surreptitiously could be construed as violations of rights of citizens who may not be guilty of having com/mitted any offense.
“In a similar vein, having anyone’s name on the “watch list” and having them turned back at the airports or other borders reminds us of the heydays of military dictatorship where going to the airport often meant going to diverse detentions for pro democracy activists. Those days must not be sneaked back in the guise of investigating #EndSARS.
“Government should invest energy/resources in learning how youths could so efficiently and peacefully pull off two weeks of popular protests with such empathy and collegiate or even fluid leadership. The lesson of the contradictions inherent in the protests — the fact that the protests were for better conditions for the police force, the very organ that was accused of brutality — should also be studied by both government and academicians. This should be a humble learning moment for the government. It should be a time for restitution and reparations, not a time for witch-hunting or victimizations.”
The President and Founder Peoples Movement for a New Nigeria, PMNN, Yahaya Ndu, said, “The implications are many; It will be a signal to Nigerians and to the international community that Nigerian Government as presently constituted does not recognize right to protest that is guaranteed by the 1999 consideration.
“The same of this is that the present Government is in many ways a product of protests and even Mr President protested several times under the Jonathan administration.
“Determined protesters would definitely develop other means of securing their funds in future; It also implies that funds of citizens in banks are held at the pleasure of government and it does not matter if you have not broken any laws.
“It is a warning that rough days are ahead for all freedom-loving and law-abiding citizens of Nigeria.”