House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila says he will not sign off on the 2021 appropriation bill if it excludes a plan to compensate victims of police brutality.
“I will not sign off on a 2021 budget that does not include adequate provisions to compensate those who have suffered violence and brutality at the hands of Nigerian police in the last decade,” Gbajabiamila said in his opening remark during Tuesday’s plenary.
For Nigeria’s appropriation bill to be passed into law, it needs the concurrence of the country’s bi-cameral legislature, the lower arm being led by Mr. Gbajabiamila.
Mr. Gbajabiamila’s statement is seen as a form of appeasement to thousands of protesters who continue to march on cities across the nation, insisting they will not leave the roads until government shows serious commitment.
Mr Gbajabiamila agreed that the prolonged protests are a wake-up call and a time for the country to establish “citizen-led accountability for the Nigerian police force.” However, he urged protesters to withdraw from the streets and know that they have been heard.
“To the young people across Nigeria who have led this protest, whose call for change has brought about this historical moment, you are the midwife of national rebirth,” Mr. Gbajabiamila said. “History will be kind to you. Your voices have been heard. Do not let anyone convince you that to withdraw from the streets now is to concede defeat.”
Incessant extortion, harassment and extra-judicial killings by SARS has elicited huge protests across the country in the past 13 days.
Nigerian citizens at home and in the diaspora have hit the streets, demanding that the government dismantle the notorious SARS, bring bad cops to justice and compensate all victims of police brutality.