Akwa Ibom State chapter of the Civil Liberties Organisation has described the state government’s ban on the activities of scrap metal scavengers as reactive, adding that government ought to have signed the bill on scavenging earlier passed in 2019.
The chairman of CLO, Franklyn Isong who addressed the press on the issue along with the Secretary, Christopher Ekpo, said such thing would have come by way of law with provisions from regulatory body to regulate the activities of scrap metal scavengers in the state.
Recall that Governor Udom Emmanuel in a statement on Tuesday signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Emmanuel Ekwuwen, banned the activities of scrap metal scavengers in the state after a clash between the Hausa and some Akwa Ibom residents which resulted to the death of three persons on Sunday.
The CLO at the press conference recalled that a Bill on metal scavengers was sponsored by Hon Aniekan Uko, member representing Ibesikpo Asutan state constituency in the state House of Assembly in 2019.
The Organisation noted that the Bill had passed first and second reading and was even subjected to public hearing, lamenting that nothing is being heard of such a Bill again.
It said if such a Bill was passed into law that, that ugly incident would not have occurred in the state.
The CLO said, “What we are saying is that the present ban on metal scrap scavenging is reactive of the state government and paints a picture that the government is temperamental. This sort of thing should come by way of a law, where there would be provisions from a regulatory body that will regulate the activities of scrap metal scavengers in the state.
“Luckily the 7th House of Assembly had done so through a bill sponsored by the member representing Ibesikpo Asutan state constituency Rt Hon. Aniekan Uko in 2019.
“That bill has passed first and second reading and was subjected to public hearing but at a point, no body heard about that bill again.
“If that bill had run its course and signed by the governor, there would have been a proper regulatory body. The incidences that gave rise to this ban wouldn’t have occurred”.
The International Human Rights Organisation therefore called on the state House of Assembly to revisit and ensure that the Bill is passed into law in the state.
“So we want the state government and the House of Assembly to revisit that bill seeking to regulate the business of scrap scavenging in the state.
“Scrap scavenging is like every other business where we have bad eggs, instead of outright ban there by creating greater challenge in the future where many of them would be rendered unemployed, government should regulate their activities through law.”