The Senate at Tuesday plenary expressed anger over the deteriorating security situation of the country, mandating its leadership to book an appointment with President Muhammadu Buhari and service chiefs to discuss the issue and proffer lasting solutions.
The senators aired their views while contributing to a motion of urgent national importance, titled ‘Need for federal government to deploy troops and other security apparatus to immediately bring an end to the menace of insurgency and terrorism in Niger State and other parts of Nigeria,’ sponsored by Senator Mohammed Sani Musa (Niger East).
This is just as the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, rejected a proposal by some senators to shut down the Senate for a while and deliberate behind closed doors on a daily basis, regarding the security issue.
The Senate also resolved to invite the service chiefs to brief them on what they’ve been doing to tackle the menace.
It further resolved to invite the Minister of Foreign Affairs, its defence counterpart, and the Director General of Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA) to discuss the regional implications of the security challenges.
The Senate also called on the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), the Chief of Army Staff (CAS) and the Inspector General of Police (IG) to immediately deploy troops to defend the unarmed populace and bring back security to the affected communities.
The Red Chamber urged the CAS and the IG 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 to redesign the modus operandi of the military operations within the affected areas so as to curtail the escalating insecurity.
It 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.
Moving the motion, Musa lamented that the activities of bandits and Boko Haram terrorists in Niger State have taken a dangerous dimension.
He recalled that the Senate had made several resolutions, set up Ad hoc Committee on Security and declared every support at bringing to an end the persistent insecurity in the country, yet insecurity has continued to elude the nation.
According to him, for almost seven years, the Niger East Senatorial District have come under constant and sustained multiple deadly attacks by heartless and venomous Boko Haram terrorists who are always heavily armed with assorted sophisticated and dangerous weapons unleashing their horror on innocent populace.
He noted that about 42 communities across the two local government areas of Shiroro and Munya have so far fallen under the Boko Haram control with about 5,000 villagers already displaced in the last three days.
He said the Boko Haram terrorists have mounted their flags in many of the villages they have captured, such as Kaure, Alawa and Magami, and the inhabitants of the 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.
”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.
”The negative effects of atrocities committed by these heartless monsters in the period under review include among others, total collapse of the local economies of the affected victims, total collapse of educational system in the affected areas, famine due to collapse of agricultural activities, displacement as a result of desertion of crisis prone areas, depopulation as a result of wanton deaths, social vices such as drug abuse and thuggery emanating from struggle for survival, trauma arising from serial rape cases and inhumane, cruel and deadly subjugation,” Musa said.
The repeated attacks, according to him, are taking place amid the absence of slightest hindrance, resistance or confrontation from the authorities concerned.
Musa called for a total review of the nation’s security architecture, adding that if this menace is not drastically addressed, the attacks will continue and the danger is that it may escalate further to other communities.
Other senators thereafter took turns to voice their views in support of the motion.
In his contribution, Senator Sabi Abdullahi (Niger North) said something drastic has to be done to curb the menace.
He said: ”We are here once again discussing this unfortunate issue of insecurity. It is indeed with a very heavy heart that I lend my support to this motion. In this chamber, we’ve traced the genesis and possible scenario as narrated by the motion sponsor, even before the crisis got to Niger State, we have discussed it thoroughly. My concern is that something drastic needs to be done. I represent Niger North, and my constituency is in constant attack. They have driven all the farmers away and the bandits now occupy those areas.”
On his part, Senator Bima Enagi (Niger South) lamented that the federal government is handling the issue of insecurity with kid gloves.
”The situation is bad, our women, men can’t go to the farms or fetch water. Nigerians can’t continue to bear this pain, we can’t continue to allow Boko Haram to force our young girls into marriage or wreak havoc. The federal government is handling this with kids gloves, people are dying everyday. We can’t continue to come here to talk, something must be done,” he said.
Also speaking, Senator Ike Ekweremadu said nothing has come out of the many security-related motions moved by the lawmakers over the years.
According to him, ”Our citizens are killed, police stations destroyed on a daily basis. Mr President recall that in the 8th Senate, you headed a summit where we discussed the security situation of the country and made recommendations, but nothing has happened about that. In this particular Senate, we have several lawmakers moved several motions on this. It’s time for us to sit up and take the business of protecting our people seriously.”
Contributing, Senator Smart Adeyemi opined that government should get help from outside as the country is bleeding.
The ranking senator said: ”The president must rise to the occasion, the country is on fire. We cannot keep quiet any longer. Our security system has collapsed, we need help from outside. The security architecture we have today can’t fight this. The president must know that the country is bleeding.”
On his part, Senator Amos Bulus said: ”We keep saying the same thing, no results, we need to do a follow up, the time is now. Look at what is happening in Niger, Borno, Benue and so on. What are going to do? We can’t continue to talk? A time will come when we can’t enter this chambers anymore if care is not taken.”
The Senate President while rejecting the proposal by some senators to shut down the Senate for some time as they deliberate behind closed doors on the issue, suggested that supplementary budget is needed to recruit more security personnel and purchase arms.
Lawan said: ”What we’ve done today is to speak the mind of our people, how they are faring in the security situation of the country. But what is crucial is to proffer solutions. I don’t think it’s the best of ideas to close the Senate because there’s serious security situation, it’s when there’s challenges that you should be opened not closed, we shouldn’t be detached or discouraged. This is the essence of parliament.
”There’s no arm of government that’s not concerned about the security situation of the country, everyone is concerned. We must appropriate funds for the military, they require additional man power, and they can’t do that without funds being appropriated for them. So we need to have a supplementary budget, not only for recruitment but for procurement of weapons. It’s going to be expensive but that’s an investment that’s worthwhile. We appeal to our citizens, this is a case in our lives, we are already in it and by the grace of God we will get out of it.
”As government plays its roles, citizens should do theirs as well. There’s no intelligence without the help of the citizens. I also commend our security forces, they work with less than what they should have, some paid the ultimate sacrifice. In my state last week, so many policemen were killed. They do this work with very limited resources and it’s our duty to give them all the support they require, as well as hold them accountable. We urge the executive arm of government to request for supplementary budget to give our armed forces the resources they require.”
Adopting the motion, the senators thereafter observed a minute silence for all the victims of the callous acts of criminality across the country.