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Erokoro, Others Sympathise With Ex Senate Leader Over House Destruction, Vandalisation

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Senator Ndoma-Egba

Erokoro, Others  Sympathises With Fmr Senate Leader Over The Destruction And Vandalisation Of His House

By; VITALIS UGOH, Calabar

As the event of the #EndSars Protest continue to baffle Nigerians over the wantoñ destruction, vandalisation and arson, a team of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) and other lawyers from Cross River and Akwa Ibom  states led by Barr Paul Erokoro undertook a sympathy visit to the house of former Senate Leader Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN).

They vehemently condemned the vandalisation, looting and burning of cars by hoodlums during the October 23 and 24 mayhem in Calabar 

Erokoro  who spoke onbehalf of the team said “first of all I will like to say that those that are here, is a small number amongst the Nigerian lawyers that arrived here.I can tell you that seeing this damage in social media and television has a touch of detachment to it. You don’t really get the impact but coming here and seeing it. This is a horrific sight, I can tell you, we have no doubt that if our colleague would have been in with his family, they probably won’t be alive today. It’s hard to believe that this was a random attack. The methodical way in which the damage was inflicted, room to room, item by item and then the wanton destructions.”

He said “there’ a strong suggestion of malice and hatred because its hard not to think that this was a planned attack and they took advantage of the situation in the country and perpetrate it”.

Erokoro said, “we all have houses in Calabar, we all live here. Victor Ndoma lived here in this estate and bought his first plot of land in 1981, Victor started his first house here in 1981. So those who think this is the money that he made from government, NO. We were in our second year in private legal practice when we bought land here and Victor built. This particular one he started it in 1991, years before it could ever occur to him that he will be a senator one day”.

Worried from what they saw, he said “when we leave here, we shall inspect other infrastructures that’s connected with judgement delivery, our court and then other government offices. obviously it wasn’t only these houses that were attacked, Senator Gershom Bassey’s house is not far from here., They also ransacked and looted his father’s house, the pride of White House. The House that was built long before any of us could have thought of being an adult, that house was our pride, they went  and burnt it. Why would you burn the house which would have been a thing of heritage.I can understand the hunger in the land. We are witnesses and we are recognized that they’ve never been as so much hardship in this land as it is today. I am sure it was a shock to government when people started #ENDSARS and the thing degenerated to looting of warehouses where food were stored and so on and so forth,.So we understand that there is hunger and like they say “a hungry man is an angry man” 

He called on the Federal government to stop white elephant prpjects and provide actual governance and that is not hard. Actual governance require simply a sincere approach to taking care of the welfare and the security of the people and it is very easy if their salaries are to be paid to them, fill the potholes in the streets, if water is not running, give them running water, make sure that pensions are paid, there should be no escapism.”.

Government projects, he said, should be focused on reality, thats where we want to congratulate the government of Cross River state for the industries they havee built. We want to congratulate them for the super highway they are building, the deep seaport whether they have finished or not we appeal to this government, hold on, leave those projects for now, they have gone far enough. We are happy that the government of this state in its budget some days ago has told the whole world that it is devoting 69% of the budget to youth empowerment and creation of jobs. We thank His Excellency the Governor for that very bold step but we are interested on how it would be implemented”.

He said “We  had suggested to the Government of the state because I overheard him say expanding government, NO, don’t expand the government because the government is already too large. Contract government. All over the world, jobs are created not by employment of workers into public service but by putting in place an enabling environment for the private sector to create jobs. It is the private sector that employs while government is always be seen.”.

Erokoro declared,  “we have here a situation in our state where perhaps government policies are ironically putting poverty, some of the policies I take the issue of taxation for instance , Cross River state ranks very high in the nation in internally generated revenue. Everybody knows that we are a poor state, a civil service state, so how are we able to generate so much tax, obviously by probably over tax. 

Most of the Quarries are scaled down because the taxation is too much and a lots of businesses have closed down because the people are overburdened by too much taxation. We thank the government for waving taxation for the poorest people in the society but you must also cut taxes for businesses so that they can expand and employ people.Government already receives statutory allocation, why do they need to tax the people so much.”.

Explaining further, Erokoro said, second policy is that the local governments are not functioning. If the local government are allowed to function as a tier of government, they would create employment opportunity, they will create economic activities. Every months they just pay salaries and that is it.I went to a primary school built by a local government in this state, that primary school with the same infrastructure trained the technical college, the college of education, today it houses the campus of University of Cross River State, it was built by Ogoja council.

So the local government councils should be encouraged to work, they should build schools, they should do water works, they should do roads. The local government should function as pure government.If you go abroad, you hear of councils flags, much of the houses in those communities are done by the councils, so let our councils work.

He asked “then what is our main resource in the state, the main resource we have in cross river is land, yes land. Our government must understand that making land easily available for people is economic empowerment. Set aside two Saturdays to sign certificate of occupancy. I should be able to come to Cross River state and say I want land without going to any community and it should be possible to collect my certificate of occupancy in no time.”

In cross river, the government should put up a law where certificate of occupancy would be collected in 5 days and the world Bank will immediately put 200 million dollar into that state.

We in the legal profession believe that somehow the government have waged war against our profession. Lawyers in the ministry of Justice are not paid, so many were sacked recently, more than thirty. There is a magistrate who have not been paid for two years and they are working. The last batch of Judges that were employed, have not been given cars. These are things I’m sure that the government can easily address. There’s so much that can be done, if you do not deal with the effect of the law enforcement agencies, look at the consequences.

The state government must compensate those who suffered this damage because the primary responsibility of government is to protect lives and property. If under his watch whether it was the state government fault or not, but if the government doesn’t speak clearly it gives room for this conspiracy theories, so thats why the government must speak. Tell us who did it and tell us quickly and encourage people, fund that commission of enquiry, protect the witnesses that will be going there even if there are going to give evidence without being seen by the public, camera or whatever but let the government be seen to be genuinely interested in finding out the truth and that will encourage people to speak up.

Government should pay compensation, Senator Victor Ndoma Egba may not need the compensation not because he has the money to restore his house but if he has received this kind of discouragment from investing in his state then why should he come back. Most people have run away to Abuja, Lagos etc, so those who actually invest their money in their state should not be single out for victimization, they should be encouraged. Its clearly a failure of government, there is no way you can sugar-coat it.

The police have made a number of arrest, a number of people have returned properties, by now the police must have taken statement from so many people. they must know from those statement if any of them was motivated by outside consideration or whether it was spontaneous. From those statements you will be able to have a trace to write up to where this arrangement came from.If there’s sincerity in the investigation, the truth will be coming out. So I don’t know what method the government will use, all we are saying is that the government owe the people the duty to tell us how and why this happened, so that we know whether we will live peacefully in this state or whether we should move out. many people are running to Libya and the rest, maybe we should go there because home is no longer safe for us then why do we call it home.

Erokoro said,”we have here a situation in our state where perhaps government policies are ironically putting poverty, some of the policies I take the issue of taxation for instance , Cross River state ranks very high in the nation in internally generated revenue. Everybody knows that we are a poor state, a civil service state, so how are we able to generate so much tax, obviously by probably over tax. Most of the Quarries are scaled down because the taxation is too much and a lots of businesses have closed down because the people are overburdened by too much taxation. We thank the government for waving taxation for the poorest people in the society but you must also cut taxes for businesses so that they can expand and employ people.Government already receives statutory allocation, why do they need to tax the people so much”.

“Second policy is that the local governments are not functioning. If the local government are allowed to function as a tier of government, they would create employment opportunity, they will create economic activities. Every months they just pay salaries and that is it.I went to a primary school built by a local government in this state, that primary school with the same infrastructure trained the technical college, the college of education, today it houses the campus of University of Cross River State”.

“It was built by Ogoja council.So the local government councils should be encouraged to work, they should build schools, they should do water works, they should do roads. The local government should function as pure government.If you go abroad, you hear of councils flags, much of the houses in those communities are done by the councils, so let our councils work, he noted”.

“Then what is our main resource in the state, the main resource we have in Cross  River is land, yes land. Our government must understand that making land easily available for people is economic empowerment. Set aside two Saturdays to sign certificate of occupancy. I should be able to come to Cross River state and say I want land without going to any community and it should be possible to collect my certificate of occupancy in no time, he added”.

“In Cross River, the government should put up a law where certificate of occupancy would be collected in 5 days and the world Bank will immediately put 200 million dollar into that state.We in the legal profession believe that somehow the government have waged war against our profession. Lawyers in the ministry of Justice are not paid, so many were sacked recently, more than thirty. There is a magistrate who have not been paid for two years and they are working. The last batch of Judges that were employed, have not been given cars. These are things I’m sure that the government can easily address. There’s so much that can be done, if you do not deal with the effect of the law enforcement agencies, look at the consequences., he said”. 

He called on the state government to set up a process to compensation to  those who suffered this damage because the primary responsibility of government is to protect lives and property. If under his watch whether it was the state government fault or not, but if the government doesn’t speak clearly it gives room for this conspiracy theories, so that is why the government must speak. Tell us who did it and tell us quickly and encourage people, fund that commission of Enquiry. Protect the witnesses that will be going there even if they are going to give evidence without being seen by the public,, camera or whatever but let the government be seen to be genuinely interested in finding out the truth and that will encourage people to speak up. 

“Government should pay compensation, Senator Victor Ndoma Egba may not need the compensation not because he has the money to restore his house but if he has received this kind of discouragment from investing in his state then why should he come back,” he queried.

“Most people have ran away to Abuja, Lagos etc, so those who actually invest their money in their state should not be singled out for victimization, they should be encouraged. It is clearly a failure of government. There is no way you can sugar-coat it” he averred.

He recalled that the police have made a number of arrest. A number of people have returned properties. By now the police must have taken statement from so many people. They must know from those statement if any of them was motivated by outside consideration or whether it was spontaneous. From those statements you will be able to have a trace to write up to where this arrangement came from. If there is sincerity in the investigation, the truth will be coming out. So I don’t know what method the government will use, all we are saying is that the government owe the people the duty to tell us how and why this happened, so that we know whether we will live peacefully in this state or whether we should move out. many people are running to Libya and the rest, maybe we should go there because home is no longer safe for us then why do we call it home”.

“We said earlier that we feel that this government is waging war against our profession. The process of appointing a new Chief Judge is very simple. To appoint the most senior judge. The governor sent the name of the most senior judge, Honorable Justice Akon Ikpeme to State House of Assembly and the state house of assembly refused to endorsed her appointment and because of that we have been on the position of acting Chief Judge,Akon Ikpeme acted for three months, Maurice Eneji acted for six months and now we have another. We cannot allow this to continue because there is too much uncertainty and it is creating difficulty in the development of the judiciary. Cases are not being properly assigned and are we expecting that we will run through the list of judges in Cross River state so that everybody will act, he pointed out”.

Unfortunately, he said, “the state house of assembly has refused to endorsed the most senior judge. Let it be noted that this will be only issue as far as I know the only issue the State House of Assembly is disagreeing with the Governor. Every state in Nigeria, the state house of assembly work with the governor, there’s no governor that has conducted local government election and lost a councilor seat to another political party. They are able to have their way. So in this particular case the governor did not get his way, some suspect that the governor did not really want the lady to be. We have no evidence of that, some say that the state house of assembly was concern about security issue but the point to be made is this, how so ever it comes about, we want a substantive Chief Judge”.

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