DSM Opposes Planned House-to-House Search by Oyetola Government
* We condemn physical assaults of citizens by security agents enforcing curfew
* We hold Oyetola government culpable in the violence and mass looting in Osun State
The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), Osun State Chapter, hereby expresses its strong opposition to the plan of the Oyetola-led Osun State government and the security agencies to carry out a house-to-house search in the state for the looted goods. We see this as an infringement on the rights of the citizens. While we condemn wanton looting and destruction of public and private property and businesses, we maintain that there is no basis for this kind of repressive measure, which was not even used during the dark days of military rule.
We also use this medium to condemn in strong terms, physical assaults and harassment of citizens by the police and the army deplored by the Oyetola government to enforce the imposed curfew and recover looted items. Many gory images have emerged showing soldiers and policemen physically assaulting citizens under the guise of enforcing the imposed curfew, especially in Osogbo and Ilesa. This is condemnable. This again justifies the cries of Nigerians in the #EndSARS struggle for the total reform of the security agencies. If anybody is found to have flouted the law, there are laid down rules for prosecution of such a person, rather than dehumanizing them.
Furthermore, the curfew, as far as we are concerned, is ill-advised and ill-conceived. The government imposed a sudden 24-hour curfew without addressing the question of how people will survive the curfew. This is similar to how the government handled the COVID-19 lockdown, where government locked down the state for weeks without any provision for citizens’ survival, even when the government had palliatives. Even if the government was to impose a curfew, such should have been done without resorting to a sudden 24-hour curfew.
Moreover, the attempt to criminalise the people of the state through house-to-house search for looted goods is misplaced. We make bold to say that the Oyetola-led state government is culpable in the degeneration of the #EndSARS protest and the subsequent mass looting that took place. As noted in our earlier position, many of the thugs who hijacked the protests and attacked peaceful #EndSARS protesters are political thugs used by the governments from the Oyinlola/PDP government, to Aregbesola/APC government and now Oyetola/APC government.
While Oyinlola/PDP government popularized the use of political thugs, Aregbesola government’s systematized this with the State Boys ugly phenomenon. The Oyetola government has maintained the status quo, by allowing thugs to have a free reign across the state. Under the watch of the government, several gang and cult clashes have occurred, with many of the kingpins of these gangs allowed to go scot-free. Meanwhile, innocent citizens, who were just unfortunate to be near the scenes of the clashes were rounded up and arraigned. Therefore, the government and the main political parties of APC and PDP bred the thugs; and Oyetola government is a culprit in all of these. Indeed, the security agencies had opportunity to stop the violence when it started, but refused to act when necessary. Now, they want to use the violence to launch repression on the citizens.
While opposing the dastardly act of mass looting and destruction of private and public properties, we make bold to say that the government laid the basis for all the mess. For almost ten years of Aregbesola and Oyetola/APC governments, more and more people have been thrown to the hip of poverty, no thanks to the anti-poor pro-capitalist policies of the government. Currently under the Oyetola government, pensioners who retired under the contributory pension scheme since 2016 have not received their entitlements; those on government’s enrolment are also being denied their full gratuities. The government has not only failed to remit all arrears of pension contributions deducted from workers’ salaries to their pension managers, but has also refused to pay its counterpart funds for the contributory pension. This is aside other unremitted funds like cooperative contributions, union levies, etc. In fact, the government owes workers over 30 months’ arrears of half salaries and pensions, incurred since the Aregbesola era. Worse still, social services in the state, including education and healthcare, have been priced out of the reach of the citizens. To add insult to injury, the government imposed various extortionate levies and taxes on already impoverished citizens. All of these poverty-enhancing policies and actions of the government have made the citizens desperate for survival.
It is ironic that the same government that is searching for looted goods, has refused to explain why it locked down donated COVID-19 food items meant for the people for months. While the federal government has refunded over N4.6 billion to the state for federal projects executed by the state government, the government has refused to state when it would start offsetting arrears of salaries and pensions, which were the casualties for the projects executed. Now that looted goods are being returned to the government, when is the Oyetola government going to recover billions of naira looted from the state purse, which has turned Osun State into a highly indebted state?
The search for looted goods, and funds, should start at the top. To begin with there should be a public enquiry, organised by pro-masses’ organisations and the trade unions, into the wealth of all political office holders, top civil servants, senior police officers and all their families together with an examination of all recent public office holders. Then it will become clear who has really got their hands on looted goods!
Consequent upon all this, we hold that the planned house-to-house search is unwarranted, and an infringement on the rights of the citizens. We call on the working people of the state, especially the labour movement and communities, to reject this ill-motivated plan. While not supporting looting and arson, it is the anti-poor capitalist policies of the government at all levels which have impoverished majority of the citizens. This is the source of the mass looting.