Reps reject motion to investigate alleged harassment of protesters in Abuja

Reps to investigate alleged extortion at Nigeria's airports

The House of Representatives has rejected a motion to investigate the alleged brutalisation and detention of the 1 October protesters by the Nigeria Police in Abuja.

The motion, moved on Wednesday by the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, prayed that the House should condemn the alleged highhandedness of the police and to mandate the committee on police affairs to investigate the matter.

According to Mr Elumelu’s motion, four protesters were arrested during that protest and police are yet to charge those arrested to court or give them access to legal counsel.

“Four of the protesters were arrested and allegedly taken to Galadimawa Police Station, later moved to the FCT Police command and to date denied access to either their families or their lawyers.

“Such illegal detention of citizens held incommunicado brought to mind the draconian military decrees and speaks of barbaric conducts of past years under the current democracy,” he argued.

Speaking against the motion, the Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase (APC, Plateau), said the burning of tyres and blocking of major roads is not a peaceful protest.

While making his point, Mr Wase also erroneously confused the 1 October protests with the September 28th Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) annual Arbaeen Symbolic Trek.

Eight members of the IMN reportedly died following clashes between members of the sect and security agents in Gwarampa axis of Abuja.

The deputy speaker said he was stranded because of the protest. He stated that the police should be allowed to do their work.

“He (Mr Elumelu) knows the effect of what IPOB today are doing, burning police stations, killing people. It is not different from what has taken place. I think he fell short to tell exactly the association that is involved in this dastardly act.

“Does peaceful protest mean you destroying national infrastructure, by burning tires on the road. It means they are weakening the strength of the infrastructure. It shouldn’t be tolerated. If you carry a placard peacefully, go to the right place but not obstructing people who are out to go and look for their genuine means of livelihood and they say it is human right. I don’t know what that kind of human rights is.

“On that faithful day, I happened to be among the Nigerians that suffered in the protest. Before that day, on the other route along Mararaba and everybody will tell you the kind of carnage, the kind of inconvenience they caused. Lives were lost as a result of what is called peaceful protest. And when people are brought to account, we will be the same people that will defend people who are offending the laws, offending our country, I think that is not correct. This is what is coming from the Shiite group. I fear, I don’t what to associate with those who have good belief that those things that happen other people are interested in it in order to bring the government down.”

The Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu, said the essence of the investigation is to unravel the circumstances surrounding the protest.

Speaking on the motion, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila raised concern on a paragraph in the motion, alleging shooting of protesters. He urged Mr Elumelu to expunge that paragraph.

Mr Elumelu, therefore, moved an amendment to remove the paragraph.

While moving the amendment, he stated that some lawmakers were whispering that they will not support the motion.

When the motion was put to vote by the Speaker, the “nays” had it.

The motion was put to voice vote three times but the members rejected it.


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