By Henry Iheanacho
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, says he will not sign the 2021 Appropriation Bill presently before the two legislative chambers, if provisions are not made to compensate families of victims of police brutality in the last decade.
Gbajabiamila also said he would not sign the budget if implementation of the agreement between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU is not captured by the budget.
By constitution, the Senate president and Speaker sign bills passed by the National Assembly before they are transmitted to the President for assent.
In his opening remarks at the plenary on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, the Speaker noted that the #EndSARS protests “have gotten more serious” with pockets of violence in parts of the country.
According to him, the protests “seem to have hijacked” by those who have a different agenda.
Gbajabiamila noted that the Federal Government, through the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, had set up a panel of enquiry to take complaints from victims of police brutality.
According to him, none of these have convinced the agitators to suspend the protests.
Probability 1 : Solution to the Exercise
He pointed out that expectations from the ruling class were high, adding that “Our people expect action and we must deliver.”
Gbajabiamila recalled that the House, after debating over the issues raised by the protesters against the Nigeria Police Force, met with the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, last week.
He said NBA President, Olumide Apata, had also set up a panel led by Prof Deji Adekunle (SAN) to work with the House on how to amend and create laws to reform the police.
The Speaker also disclosed that the House is considering the establishment of an independent body that investigate and recommends errant security operatives for sanction and prosecution.
“The police cannot be above the citizens…and above the law,” he stated.
While threatening to withhold his signature to the appropriation bill, Gbajabiamila disclosed that he would be leading a delegation of lawmakers to pay condolence visits to families of some of those killed by the police, stressing that they would be honoured after the visits.
The Speaker, however, urged #EndSARS protesters to be cautious in handling the matter.
He partly said, “Don’t let your righteous cause be hijacked…and bring our nation to its needs…This is the time to move your agitation from the streets.”