CHUKWU DAVID reports on the concern expressed by the Senate recently over insecurity in Nigeria and the apparent failure by relevant security agencies to effectively address the situation
A fortnight ago, the Senate gave hard knocks on the executive arm of government over the state of insecurity in the country. This was provoked by the tragic death of 73 citizens of Benue State, who were murdered by those believed to be armed Fulani herdsmen.
Apart from the Benue killings, the brutal massacre of innocent, armless and helpless Nigerians in other states of the Federation including Kaduna, Taraba, Adamawa, Niger and Zamfara were reported. The international media are awash with embarrassing reports of barbaric tendencies of some Nigerians against fellow citizens.
This worrisome security development has precipitated agitations, apprehension and rancour among the citizenry across the lengths and breaths of the nation.
The situation has also further weakened the fragile unity between the North and South as well as Christians and Muslims, with widening mutual suspicion characterizing the relationships of these two ethno-religious divides. With this deteriorating security situation in the country, which is practically assuming a frightening propensity, Nigerians of walks of life have been expressing concerns about the virtually collapse of the nation’s security infrastructure as reflected in the failure of the security agencies to rise up to the occasion in defence of those who are constant targets of brutal attacks.
The Senate, had on resumption from the Christmas and New Year recess on January 16, holistically examined and debated the deteriorating security situation and thereafter, directed the Inspector- General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, to within two weeks arrest and submit for persecution the New Year Day killers in Benue State.
However, the IGP was not able to implement the resolution of the apex legislative chamber as he failed to apprehend the culprits till the expiration of the two-week ultimatum last week. This prompted the lawmakers to summon the Police boss to appear before its joint committees of Police Affairs and Intelligence for explanation.
The Senate while deliberating on the issue on Wednesday last week, also decried the apparent security breakdown in Zamfara, Niger and Kano states. Senators from the areas reported that armed banditry, kidnapping and criminal intimidation of civilians and politicians have become the order of the day.
The resolutions were made following several security concerns raised by the lawmakers, particularly with reference to the New Year mass murder in Benue State and current security challenges in Zamfara, Niger and Kano states. Senator Joshua Lidani (PDP, Gombe), had during plenary, raised a point of order to draw the attention of the Red chamber to the fact that the two-week ultimatum given to the IGP to arrest and submit for prosecution the perpetrators of Benue massacre had elapsed without the resolution being implemented. He said: “The Senate clearly resolved that the Inspector-General of Police be given two weeks to identify and arrest all those who perpetrated the killings in Benue on New Year Day.
This resolution was passed and transmitted to the Inspector- General of Police. But to the best of my knowledge and information, I believe no arrest has been made and no information has been brought to the Senate concerning the resolution.
“I therefore will like the Senate President to in line with this resolution to compel the Inspector-General of Police to appear before the Senate and explain why he has not complied with the resolution of the Senate.” After his submission, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, expressed worries that the Police boss had neither arrested the culprits nor sent any information on what he had done or was doing on the matter. He stressed the need for those in positions of authority to take resolutions of the nation’s highest lawmaking body serious, insisting that the Senate will never allow the Benue massacre to be swept under the carpet. He therefore, directed the Senate Committees on Police Affairs and Intelligence to invite the IGP to appear before it on Thursday last week to ascertain his reasons for not carrying out the resolution of the lawmakers and report back to the chamber next week Tuesday (today)..
His words: “I remember very clearly when we passed this ultimatum, there was very great concern by some of us that such resolution of this chamber must be taken serious, and I think it goes beyond the two weeks ultimatum. “I think the integrity of the institution on issues as important as this must be taken seriously.
The Senate Committees on Police and Intelligence should summon the IG to appear before it by tomorrow (Thursday last week) to be able to make an explanation to us on where we are on this two weeks ultimatum; and those two committees should report to us by Tuesday (this week). We should be told the exact situation where we are.
“We must make it very clear to the security agencies that those kinds of ultimatum cannot be taken for granted. If by Tuesday we are not happy with the report submitted, we can take a decision to summon the IG to plenary.
If people think that we are going to sweep this under the carpet, the answer is definitely no. We are not going to stop until people are made accountable for their actions. Even as the President has said in his letter, he has told the IG to ensure speedy prosecution of those concerned and we are not seeing that, and I hope the IG knows that he needs to take it very seriously because the whole country is waiting to see the outcome of it, and something needs to be done.”
The Senate also condemned the criminal activities of armed bandits in Zamfara State. Senator Kabiru Marafa had raised Order 43 of the Senate Standing Orders to make personal explanation on the worrisome security challenge in the state, particularly Zamfara Central senatorial district, which he represents.
He claimed that the security situation in the state is getting out of hands because the state government is not interested in addressing the matter, but rather busy attacking anybody who brings the development in the state to public knowledge.
He said: “I want to report again that the situation in Zamfara is getting worse by the day. Mr. President, I want to bring to the notice of this Senate the unfortunate kidnapping of a young girl of 19 years a week to her wedding in a village in my senatorial district on the January 26.
“Three people were kidnapped in the same village, and as I am talking to you, they are still in the hands of the bandits.
Two weeks ago, another four were kidnapped but released after payment of ransom.”
The senator further lamented that the situation had deteriorated to a point where citizens would have no option than to start procuring weapons to defend themselves, warning that when such happens, people should not be arrested for defending themselves as government cannot not help them. He urged the Senate to hold the Zamfara State government responsible if anything happens to him or any member of his family.
Marafa expressed concerns that he had expected the state government to react to his submissions on the state of insecurity in Zamfara on the floor of the Senate two weeks ago but regretted that there was no response from any quarters but an attack on his person. In a related development, the Senate also the same day directed the Inspector-General of Police, to provide adequate security for the former governor of Kano State and senator representing Kano Central, Rabiu Kwankwaso, to enable him visit his senatorial district.
The directive followed a point of order by Senator Isa Misau, informing the Chamber that Senator Kwankwaso (APC-Kano Central) was stopped from visiting his constituency as a result of security threat from the state. He said: “I don’t want to talk about the issues concerning politics in Kano, but I want to talk about the issues of security concerning what is happening in Kano. Senator Kwankwaso gave a date to visit his constituency, but instead of him to be allowed, the police wrote a letter advising him not to go. If a senator representing his constituency will not be allowed to visit his constituency, I think it is not good for us.
The Senate should ask the Inspector General of Police to provide security for him to go to his constituency.” In his reaction, Senator Kabiru Gaya (APC-Kano South) said Kwankwaso and Governor Abdullahi Ganduje are two good friends and that what is happening between them is mere politics, which should be treated as a family matter and resolved without involving the Senate.
Also, Senator Jibrin Barau (APC-Kano North) expressed serious concern that Misau who is a senator from another state was the one bringing the matter between Kwankwaso and the governor to the Senate. Meanwhile, in accordance with its summon, the Senate, on Friday, held a closed-door session that lasted for more than one hour with the Inspector-General of Police.
In his opening remarks, chairman of the joint committee, Senator Abu Ibrahim (APC, Katsina State), said the meeting was not for media coverage and warned the IGP not to disclose the outcome of the security briefing to the press until the committee lays its report on the floor of the Senate today.
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