Almost one year following the nationwide mayhem unleashed by the #EndSARS protests, the Senate Joint Committee on National Security & Intelligence, Defence, Police Affairs and Judiciary & Legal Matters, Tuesday, visited Calabar to assess the level of damage to property in the state.
Led by its Chairman, Senator Ibrahim Gobir, the Committee expressed shock and sadness at the level of destruction of both public and private properties in the state.
The Committee visited several places including the Tinapa Lake Resort, the Calabar International Convention Centre located at Summit Hills, the Calabar Garment Factory, Ayade Industrial Park, Federal Psychiatric Hospital and the World Health Organisation (WHO) office, amongst other.
Speaking when the committee paid a visit on the state governor, Sir Ben Ayade shortly after inspecting the damaged properties, Senator Gobir said members of his committee were “saddened by the event and especially the mindless level of destruction visited on all the properties we saw.”
The Committee Chairman said the committee felt the need to visit the state and see things for themselves before concluding its report.
“Immediately we landed, our first port of call was Tinapa and what we saw was unbelievable because we never expected that kind of destruction we saw in that place.”
Gobir recalled that he was “in Tinapa some years back and I know the kind of things you could find in Tinapa because what was there was second to none in this country, but unfortunately when we went there yesterday, the situation was so bad and the destruction was so much.”
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Lamenting, the Chairman said: “Sometimes we wonder why people should go to that extent. But because people are senseless they tend to sabotage or go on that kind of wanton destruction.
In spite of the gloom, the Senator said it members could not help but notice the scale of industrialization undertaken by the governor.
“Despite all these, we have seen the kind of development through industrialization under your watch and of course, we are not surprised because you are a man of intellectual capacity,” Sen. Gobir stated.
Thanking the Committee for its evaluation tour of the state, Governor Ayade who described the attacks as wilful, vicious and mindless, lamented that “for the little intellectual money we have struggled to be able to push in value, some people came in and destroyed everything.
“We have people on video while destroying saying: ‘Let’s see how Cross River will be boasting about their Tinapa, let’s see how they will be talking of this Industrial park’. Truly, the highest destruction in the whole country was in Cross River, as most of our assets including our piles and pylon factory which you could not go because it is in far away Akamkpa were destroyed.
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“It is the major factory that will build the sub-structure for the deep seaport. So there was somebody behind the strategic attack because even the looting they did was just too much. All the persons arrested in connection with the violence happen to be non-indigenes. When we did door to door search, the people in whom we found some of our looted assets were linked to a certain ethnic nationality. So, for us as a state, it is like we lost a whole generation.”
According to Ayade, “What happened in Cross River State during the Endsars was something I will say was not natural because when the protest started across the country, Calabar and indeed, Cross River was totally at peace. I therefore, took proactive steps by putting out a broadcast offering scholarships to all indigenes of the state in the Cross River State University of Technology, including announcing massive programs of incentives. I spoke to the youths, encouraged them to be cautious that Cross River State was the state with the least federal allocation. I told them that the destruction would hurt us as a state.
“I was on TV and radio, I addressed them through these mediums, we had several meetings with the service commanders to forestall anything that could go wrong but we also saw on social media, people asking why was Cross River so peaceful while all our neighbouring states were burning? It was almost as if somebody was actually pushing an agenda about why should Calabar have peace? And so if you check the systemic destruction you will know that it was orchestrated. In one of our security meetings we were told that there was a team of people who were going to come through the waters to come and attack us because they think it was an embarrassment that everywhere else was burning except Calabar.”
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