The Senate, on Tuesday, mandated its leadership to schedule an appointment with President Muhammadu Buhari to enable all 109 senators meet with him in a closed session to discuss security matters in the country.
This was just as the chamber resolved to summon the Service Chiefs to brief lawmakers on steps taken so far to address the rising spate of insecurity in the country.
It also mandated the Joint Committees on Foreign Affairs; Defence and National Security to engage the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, National Security Adviser, Babagana Munguno, Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi (Rtd) and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, on the regional implications of the recent development in Chad.
These formed part of resolutions reached, following a motion on the deadly activities of bandits and Boko Haram terrorists in some Local Government Areas of Niger State and other parts of Nigeria.
Coming under Order 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Rules, sponsor of the motion, Senator Sani Mohammed Musa (APC, Niger East) raised alarm that for seven years, “Niger East Senatorial District of Niger State have come under constant and sustained multiple deadly attacks by heartless, venomous and hydra-headed Boko Haram terrorists who are always heavily armed with assorted sophisticated and dangerous weapons unleashing their horror on our innocent populace.”
According to the lawmaker, the negative effects of atrocities committed by the terrorists have led to a collapse of the local economies and educational system in the affected areas.
He added 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”, Senator Musa said.
The lawmaker disclosed further that, “at this moment primary schools in Gwada, Kuta, Pandogari and Minna have hurriedly been turned to IDP camps following the sacking of nearly 5600 villagers from their ancestral homes in Shiroro, Rafi and Munya tocai government areas in the last few weeks by bandits who raided the towns over the weekend. And what this means is that if they can launch attacks without hindrance in Niger East Senatorial District, then I don’t see how Abuja is safe anymore.
“Again note, before the recent Bandits struck Kagara headquarters of Rafi Local Government, Madaka-Gari, Maikujeri, Magami, Zangouru, Bassa, Gusoro, Galadiman Kogo and Kokki villages where all attacked with casualties more than 46 people killed.
“[And] between March 2021 to date same terrorist have launched serial attacks on daily basis to adjoining villages of Alawa, Shakodna, Chiri, Kwaki, Ajatayi, Gwassa, Barden Dawaki and Gyammamiya communities in Munya and Shiroro local Government Areas of Niger State killing many innocent people which also resulted to the loss of more than 25 Gallant soldiers, mobile policemen and other security personnel, while more than 16 civilians were killed, many others unaccounted and leaving over 2300 displaced, while over 1500 are now sheltered at Primary Schools turned temporary camps at Brena, Galadiman-Kogo and Zumba. The number of persons said to have been killed by bandits in Niger East are over 475 between January 2020 to date.
“Aware that the Federal Government had made frantic efforts in curbing the menace through various Operations to tackle cases of terrorism, banditry, cattle rustling and kidnapping across Nigeria, but yet the expected return of peace in our land Is unattainable.
“Further ware that confirmed reports emanating from those affected areas of Allawa and Bassa towns in Shiroro local government Niger State indicated that the Joint Security Task Force stationed there have been withdrawn.
“However, no reason has been advanced for the withdrawal, but observers believe it will not be unconnected with the casualties suffered by the JSTF during the last unfortunate invasion and ambushing of the troops stationed at Alawa by the heartless, venomous and hydra-headed terrorists.
“Worried that the continuous security challenges and related attacks by bandits in towns, villages and communities in Shiroro, Rafi and Munya Local Government Areas of Niger State have meted untold hardship on the people and has subjected the affected areas under serious survival threat.
“If this menace is not drastically addressed, the attacks will continue, and the danger is that it may escalate further to other communities, which are mostly farming communities, and the farmers may desert their farms this season and this will negatively affect the food sufficiency and economic diversification policy of the Federal Government.”
Contributing, the Deputy Whip, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi (APC, Niger North) said Niger State has become a save haven to bandits and terrorists who fled parts of the North East region, warning that something drastic must be done by the federal government to nip the problem in the bud.
He said: “Today, we are talking about them occupying Niger state in the manner that have been given earlier by the mover of the motion.
“The point to be made now is, if we are lucky to have a security intervention in Niger State, where would be their safe haven? Possibly Abuja, and, I think this is something we have also said before.
“The number of people that are becoming displaced daily is on the increase, and I think we are definitely feeling very insecure, because these are our citizens, we can’t even go to them as we used to.”
Mohammed Bima Enagi (APC, Niger South), said, “the situation has become so bad and shameful. Our women cannot go to market, our women cannot go to fetch water from the rivers, our men cannot go to farm, our children cannot go to school.”
He lamented, “Nigerians cannot continue to bear this pain of our women been raped and forcefully married to Boko Haram terrorists.
“We cannot continue to allow Boko Haram to mount flags on Nigerian territory. What is our Army doing, what are the security agencies doing? The situation has become so shameful that a great country like Nigeria will be in this type of terrible situation.
“[And] it seems like the federal government is handling this security situation with kid gloves. People are dying everyday and nothing is being done, no serious or concrete situation on ground to confront these people.
“I don’t know what else this Senate can do, apart from coming here to talk and appeal to the federal government to do something about the security situation. Something must be done.”
Senator Ike Ekweremadu (PDP, Enugu), said, “in the South East, soldiers are killed, police are killed, police stations are destroyed, and innocent people killed and kidnapped on a daily basis. Same goes for South West, North Central, North West and other parts of the country.
“We have come to a point where we have to decide whether to shut down government and deal with this, or continue with it as business as usual.”
Francis Adenigba Fadahunsi (PDP, Osun East), said, “I was so shocked as from last Sunday of the other week, Geidam was attacked. That is the home base of our leader here (Senate President) and the Inspector General of Police’s home. Then on Sunday, again, our own Airforce by mistake wiped off a whole unit (military) just some villages close to Maiduguri.
“As Senator Sabi has said, something drastic must be done. When the government cannot maintain security again, economic problem is mounting, then something must be done.
“The Senate must do its work, we have the power. We can install, and we can remove. If it means we have to look at that clause, we have to sit down and talk in executive session and harmonize and do things the way we are supposed to do it.
“If not, one day we would sit down here, and one small boy would carry AK-47, and some of us who would be able to use Amotekun clause can run away, but few of us may not be lucky. Are we going to wait for that time until we take a decision?
“All the northern Governors ran to Zamfara the other time, the next day, they (bandits) killed a lot of people in Zamfara. Governors pay condolences to each other, is that the life Nigerians must live?
Senator Amos Bulus Kilawangs (APC, Gombe South), who called for a National Security Summit, warned that if nothing is done to address the rising insecurity in the country, same would eventually take a toll on food security.
On his part, Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf (APC, Taraba Central) underscored the need for the procurement of sophisticated military equipments for security agencies.