The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has vowed to withhold his assent to the 2021 Appropriation Bill unless there are provisions for compensation of the families of the victims of police brutality and meeting the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Both the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate are are constitutionally empowered to sign bills passed by the National Assembly before they are transmitted to the President for assent.
In his opening remarks on Tuesday to open the debate on the 2021 Appropriation Bill, the Speaker said:
“I will not sign off on a 2021 budget that does not have adequate provisions to compensate those who have suffered violence from police in the last decade. I will not sign off on a budget that does not meet the reasonable demands of ASUU to which government has already acceded.”
The speaker said that he hopes to visit the families of those who have been victims of police brutality, alongside some of his colleagues in the house of representatives. He described the youths protesting across the country as midwives of national rebirth, saying their agitation has brought about a historical moment in the country.
“You (protesting youths) have moved a nation to action, and now you must join in doing the hard work of making real the vision of a more just, more prosperous, and more resilient nation.
“We see your true cause. Please do not allow your righteous cause to be hijacked by those with base motives, who see in this moment an opportunity to pursue vendettas, to spread division, exploit the many existing fissures that exist in our society, and bring our nation to its knees.
“You have raised your voices and march to demand a better Nigeria. From Abuja to Washington, to Calgary and London, your voices have been heard. Do not allow anybody to convince you that to withdraw from the streets now is to concede defeat. This is the time to move your agitation from the chaos of the streets to the painstaking deliberations and strategic partnerships that birth policy and produce legislation.
“It is time to mobilize your voices in support of specific policy interventions that will deliver on our shared objectives of national renewal and a country that reflects the best of us. I thank you, your country thanks you, and history will be kind to you.”
He said the #EndSARS protests have gotten more serious with pockets of violence in parts of the country as it seems to have been hijacked by those who have a different agenda.
Gbajabiamila noted that the Federal Government, through the National Human Rights Commission, had set up a panel of inquiry to take complaints from victims of police brutality.
He promised some measures to address the problem of police brutality in the country which includes drafting new legislation that enables a system to hold erring police officers to account for their conduct in the performance of their duties.
According to Gbajabiamila, the draft legislation which will be enacted in collaboration with the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), will be ready for consideration within 30 days.