Senate on worsening insecurity: It’s shameful Nigeria is on fire
The frightening security situation across Nigeria topped agenda at the National Assembly Abuja Tuesday with the lawmakers expressing shock over the rising challenge.
At the red chamber for instance, debates at the plenary were on for several hours with the lawmakers declaring that the country was on fire because its security system had collapsed.
Accordingly, they resolved to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on urgent measures to be taken in arresting the situation.
The lawmakers also planned to have executive session with the newly appointed Service Chiefs on strategies being mapped out to stem the tide.
The federal lawmakers also urged the Presidency to forward to the National Assembly without delay, supplementary budget for required appropriations that would facilitate massive recruitments of Nigerian youths into the Police and the Military as well as procurement of ammunition.
These resolutions were sequel to a motion moved by Senator Sani Musa (APC Niger East) on invasion of many communities in Shiroro local government area of Niger state by Boko Haram insurgents.
In the motion titled: “Dangerous Dimension of Activities of Bandits and Boko Haram Terrorists in Shiroro, Munya and Rafi Local Government Areas of Niger States and the need for urgent action by the Federal Government,” Senator Sani said 42 different communities were attacked across the local governments and 5,600 villagers displaced.
He said: “Cognisance that about 42 communities across the two local government areas of Shiroro and Munya Local Government have so far fallen under the Boko Haram control with about 5,000 villagers already displaced in the last three days.
“They have kidnapped many and their wives seized from them and forcefully attached to Boko Haram members.
“Three military camps in Allawa, Bassa and Zagzaga in the two local government areas have been sacked and some security personnel killed by the insurgents in the last one month of renewed attacks.
“I can authoritatively confirm that the Boko Haram terrorists have mounted their flags in many of the villages they have captured such as Kaure, Alawa and Magami.
“Inhabitants of these war-torn parts of the State have been abandoned and left to their fate thereby compelling them to wallow in perpetual agony and abject misery.”
‘Shameful Nigeria on fire’
Angered by the pathetic situation, Senator Birma Enagi (APC Niger South ) in his contribution said :”The situation has become so bad and so shameful. The bandits and Boko Haram insurgents are no doubt, being handled with kid gloves by the federal government through its appropriate agencies.
“The most unfortunate aspect of the national embarrassment is that no serious concrete situation of tackling it is on ground from the federal government . The Senate must definitely come up with drastic action.”
Also lampooning the executive on the worsening state of insecurity in the country, Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC Kogi West), said: “President Muhamnadu Buhari must rise to the occasion. The country is on fire.
“We cannot keep quiet any longer because our security system has collapsed. We need help from outside to help us out of the present security architecture that cannot solve the embarrassing situation at hand.
“This is a very bad time for a country that is seriously bleeding from avoidable bloodletting on daily basis.”
In his contribution, Senator Seriake Dickson (PDP Bayelsa West), said the problems confronting the country as far as insecurity is concerned, arose from self-inflicted systemic dysfunctions.
He described Nigeria as a federation on paper but unitary as far as security architecture is concerned.
“The country as presently constituted as far as the fundamental principles of federalism are concerned, is structurally incapable of tackling the problems at hand.
“The challenge at hand now is that of leadership to facilitate the required systemic reforms so as to revive the Nigerian dream and save the project itself,” he said.
But the Senate President Ahmad Lawan, in his remarks, said the country, no doubt, has serious security situation at hand which requires solution-driven inputs from all Nigerians.
“Everybody is concerned. For us in the National Assembly, we must appropriate funds for recruitment of additional manpower in the Police and the entire military outfits.
“Therefore, supplementary budget must come in that direction from the executive without much delay.
“From Nigerians generally, security agencies require their contributions into intelligence gathering against the criminal elements from time to time.
“All the resolutions taken shall be followed up for required Implementation,” he assured.
The lawmakers also resolved to call on the Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-General Ibrahim Attahiru and the Inspector General of Police, Alkali Baba, to immediately deploy troops to defend the unarmed populace and bring back security to the affected communities, which is the only antidote to restoring confidence in the security and safety of the affected communities.
They specifically called on the COAS and the IGP to as a matter of urgency, direct the establishment of a permanent military and police command base at the axis adjoining Shiroro and Rafi local government areas respectively, and redesign the modus operandi of the military operations within the affected areas so as to curtail the escalating insecurity.
The Senate also directed the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to, as a matter national emergency, provide relief materials and medical support team to the victims immediately.
Reps summon NSA, others
Also at the lower chamber, after a marathon closed door meeting around the menace, the House of Representatives summoned the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major-General Babagana Monguno and heads of other security agencies, including paramilitary organisations for a way out.
Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila rushed to the presidential villa Monday for a meeting with President Buhari, apparently in response to reports of the rise in widespread killings across the country.
But rising from the over four-hour long meeting Tuesday with fellow lawmakers, Speaker Gbajabiamila, who announced their position, said the House also resolved amongst others that Buhari should immediately declare a state of emergency against insecurity in the country.
While condemning attacks on security agents and formations and sympathising with their families, the House sympathised with all the families and communities that have been victims of banditry, terrorism and criminal elements in the country.
He listed some of these communities to include; Ukpo, Ifitedunu, Dunukofia, Geidam LGA, Abagana, IDP Camp in Makurdi Urikpam, Jato-Aka, Police Divisions in the South East, Ehime Mbano, Uzo-Uwani in Enugu state, Uzuakoli, Abia state, Balenga local government area of Gombe state, and parts of Imo state.
The lawmakers further resolved thus: “The House reiterates its commitment to the Security and corporate Existence of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and would therefore accelerate its engagement with stakeholders on a Special Security Summit to be organised by the House of Representatives.
“The House should urgently invite the NSA, Service Chiefs, and Paramilitary Chiefs, Controller General of the Nigerian Customs Service and the MD of Nigerian COMSAT to brief the House on the Security situation in the Country.
“Call on the judiciary to accelerate the prosecution of those awaiting trial due to banditry, terrorism and other criminal activities.
“Provide emergency relief to all communities that have been adversely affected by recent attacks across the country.
‘The President should as a matter of urgency, ensure financial autonomy to Local Government Councils to guarantee their functionality to serve the local populace”, and that “the Federal Government should ensure the protection of National Infrastructure assets, particularly the Shiroro and Kainji Dams in Niger State.”
The House also mandates “all its Security Committees to immediately commence comprehensive audit of all military and paramilitary assets and arms in our Armed Services and revert back to the House within 4 weeks.
“That the number of personnel in the Police and Military falls far short of the required number to effectively secure the country and calls for immediate recruitment to this effect.”
Buhari seeks AFRICOM
Meanwhile, President Buhari has urged the United States (US) to reconsider relocating U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) from Stuttgart, Germany, to Africa, nearer the Theatre of Operation.
The president made the call Tuesday at a virtual meeting with the US Secretary of State, Mr. Anthony Blinken in Abuja.
He said AFRICOM, which partners countries to counter transnational threats, should be relocated to Africa to strengthen ongoing efforts to check the security situation, with likely effect on other nations.
The Nigerian leader urged the international community to support Nigeria and the sub-region in tackling growing security challenges to avoid spill over.
He said: “The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us and impacted more negatively by exerting complex negative pressures in the Sahel, Central, and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad Region.
“Compounded as the situation remains, Nigeria and its security forces remain resolutely committed to containing them and addressing their root causes.
“The support of important and strategic partners like US cannot be overstated as the consequences of insecurity will affect all nations hence the imperative for concerted cooperation and collaboration of all nations to overcome these challenges.
“In this connection, and considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and the Sahel, weighing heavily on Africa, it underscores the need for the U.S. to consider re-locating AFRICOM Headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany to Africa and near the Theatre of Operation.’’
He said Nigeria would enhance collaborations in all forms, with friends and strategic partners, to work together for greater security for all, which remains the most significant condition for overcoming existential challenges.
Buhari congratulated Blinken on his appointment by President Joe Biden and commended the U.S. for the decision to repeal the immigration restriction known as the “Muslim ban”, re-joining the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
“Nigeria attaches great importance to its relations with the US.Let me in this connection express appreciation to President Joe Biden for his welcome and reaching decision to repeal the Immigration restriction known as the ‘Muslim ban’ on travel and visas for citizens predominantly from Muslim Nations and African Countries, including Nigeria.
“I also wish to congratulate the U.S. for re-joining the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The leadership of the U.S. in these two organisations is crucial for international community.
“This action is a demonstration of the U.S. commitment in championing and supporting international organisations with the aim to build a better world for all,” he added.
On his part, the Secretary of State, Mr Blinken said he was pleased to make Nigeria part of his “first virtual visit to Africa,” noting that Nigeria and the U.S. shared a lot in bilateral issues.
The US chief said he would be delighted to build on the foundation laid between the two countries more than 60 years ago.
He disclosed that areas of discussion with Nigeria would include “how to build our economies back after the COVID-19 pandemic, security for vulnerable communities, and climate issues.”
Also on security-related matters, Blueprint reports that seven persons were killed Tuesday and many others injured after suspected armed Fulani herders attacked Internally Displaced Persons(IDPs)’ Camp at Abagena community in Makurdi local government area of Benue state.
The killings sparked protest by youths who blocked the Makurdi- Lafia road with dead bodies of the victims, leaving commuters stranded for several hours.
Locals said the gunmen came around 2 am and started shooting and killing the residents and IDPs in their sleep.
A local who gave his name as Terese said upon hearing gunshots, some persons ran into the bush to escape being killed.
Addressing the angry youth during his visit, Governor Samuel Ortom called on President Buhari to live up to his responsibility of protecting Nigerians.
He described the attack on the IDP camp as inhuman, barbaric and unacceptable.
The governor who called for urgent action against the activities of militia herdsmen across the country, said if the federal government had taken the issue of militia herders seriously, it wouldn’t have escalated to this level.
He lamented that in the last two weeks, over seventy persons had been killed in Makurdi, Guma and Gwer West local government areas alone ,while various communities across the state were suffering from same militia herdsmen.
Describing the killings across the country as shameful, Ortom said: “Mr President must rise up to address this nation himself and all my colleagues the governors we must arise up.
“The president must wake up and call for security summit and if possible declare a state of emergency on security in this country so that all hands will be deck to address this matter.
“It’s a shame that Mr. President who is the Chief Security Officer of this country will give an order and another person will counter it.The president gave the order that anybody seen with AK47 should be shot at sight and the Chief of Army Staff said he will not do that.
“This country, the way I am seeing it, is being drowned and we must savage it, otherwise we wake up tomorrow and there will be no country called Nigeria.
‘Kidnapper’ killed in Sokoto
And in Sokoto, an irate mob allegedly killed one suspected kidnapper in the police station and razed the Kware Divisional Police Office and two other vehicles in the parking space
Confirming the incident, the commands Public Relations Officer ASP Abubakar Sanusi said the mob from Kware town, stormed the police station demanding the release of two suspected kidnappers.
Sanusi said police apprehended the two suspects and were conducting investigation into the suspects’ alleged involvement in a kidnap case in the area.
“Enlarged group of people mostly youths stormed police station shouting and insisting that the two suspects should be release for them to kill.
“They overpowered the station guard burnt down the station building along with Divisional Police Officer’s car and police van” the commands public relations officer stated
He added that the group also succeeded in killing one suspect, injured the other who had since been taken to the hospital.