Senators and three governors on Tuesday expressed concern about the nationwide ceaseless killings and kidnappings in the country, urging the President Muhammadu Buhari to seek foreign help.
The lawmakers, while debating a motion on activities of Boko Haram in Niger State, described insecurity in the country as not only terrible, but also shameful. The motion was sponsored by Senator Sani Musa (All Progressives Congress, Niger East).
The Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum; his Niger State counterpart, Sani Bello and Samuel Ortom of Benue State, in separate interviews warned that insecurity in the country was getting out of control.
The governors, therefore, urged the Federal Government to act fast as 21 people were killed across the country on Tuesday.
Zulum, in an interview with the State House correspondents on Monday night, said the President should be told the truth about insecurity in the country.
On his part, Ortom decried herdsmen’s attack on Abegana area of the state where seven persons were killed on Tuesday.
Bello, in an interview on the Nigerian Television Authority on Tuesday, said Boko Haram was scaring people away from Niger State communities.
The insecurity in Niger State was brought to the fore at the Senate on Tuesday as Senator Musa in his motion corroborated the governor’s statement, saying many communities in the state were under the control of Boko Haram.
He said, “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.
“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.”
Contributing to the motion, Bima Enagi (APC, Niger North), said Nigerians could not continue to bear the pain of women being raped and forcibly married to Boko Haram terrorists.
Enagi, who said insecurity in the country was terrible, stated, “We cannot continue to allow Boko Haram to hoist flags in Nigerian territories. What is our army doing? What are all security agencies doing?
“It has become so shameful that a great country like Nigeria will be in this type of terrible situation. It seems the Federal Government is handling this insecurity with kid gloves. People are dying every day and nothing is being done. No serious, concrete situation on ground to confront these people (insurgents and bandits). I don’t know what else this Senate can do other than appeal to the government.”
The contribution by Senator Opeyemi Bamidel drew murmurs from his colleagues when he said he was not convinced that the President was aware of the security situation in Nigeria.
He suggested that the Senate should, “mandate the leadership of the National Assembly to book an appointment with the Commander-In-Chief on behalf of the 109 senators…because I’m not convinced that Mr President is aware of everything that’s happening. And if you (Lawan) are meeting with the Commander-in-Chief, all the service chiefs and all the relevant people will be there.”
Also , Ike Ekweremadu, the senator representing Enugu West, said any government that could not protect its citizens had lost its “legitimacy.”
He said, “Any government that cannot protect its citizens has lost legitimacy. We should not be ashamed to seek support. Time has come for Niger State to shut down and protect its citizens. It’s time to shut down this Senate and go into an executive session to find a solution to this problem.”
Similarly, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, (Edo South), supported Ekweremadu’s position, calling on the Federal Government to seek external help in addressing the country’s security challenges.
Senator Smart Adeyemi (Kogi West) while making his contribution shed tears, but Senator Oluremi Tinubu, who sat close to him, was not moved by the Adeyemi’s tears.
Rather she described him as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
Remi, the wife an All Progressives Congress (APC) leader, Bola Tinubu, was obviously not comfortable with Adeyemi”s submissions.
Adeyemi said the country was facing the worst instability since the civil war. He said, “This is the worst instability we are facing. In fact, this is worse than the civil war,” he said.
Tinubu, who couldn’t hide her anger, asked, “Are you in the PDP? Are you a wolf in sheep’s clothing?”
Adeyemi, however, ignored her and said amidst tears that, “We cannot pretend that we are capable of handling the situation in our hands.
“We shouldn’t pretend that we need foreign support now. Billions of naira have been voted for security services and nothing is coming out.
“I’m a party man and I’m supporting the APC, but it has got to a point that as supporters we cannot keep quiet.”
On his part, Senator Francis Fadahunsi said that something drastic must be done, adding that Senate must do its work.
Senator Seriake Dickson on his part stated, “Our federalism is only in name. Our security is structurally incompetent. We are about to lose the Nigerian dream.”
Biodun Olujimi said bloodletting in the country had got out of hand. “There is lack of political will to handle insecurity. None of us here can say we know the process that this government is taking to handle insecurity. There is also lack of leadership. New service chiefs have come. Have we told them what to do and given them a timeline?” she asked.
Gabriel Suswan lamented that the executive had shown clear incompetence in tackling insecurity.
He said “Our lives as senators are in danger. Nobody is attaching any value to human life again. Maybe our President doesn’t know the magnitude of this situation.”
Senator Sabi Abdullahi said that the security situation should be addressed, noting that the next place after Niger State would be Abuja.
The Senate spokesperson, Ajibola Basiru, urged his colleagues to stop lamenting and take actions that would bring out results.
After the debate, the Senate in its resolutions directed its leadership to hold an urgent meeting with the President.
The red chamber also agreed to summon the service chiefs and other heads of security agencies.
It also agreed to invite the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, and the Director of National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.
It also urged the Federal Government to recruit more soldiers and other security personnel to boost the war against terrorism and forms of insecurity.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, stressed the need to purchase necessary equipment to fight insurgency.
He said, “We need to request supplementary budget from the executive to procure more weapons for the military.
“We’ve spoken the minds of our people. We will not be discouraged with what is happening. Security requires manpower and procurement of weapons and platforms.”
Musa, who moved the motion, told journalists after the plenary that he refused to include Buhari’s impeachment in his prayers to avoid further crisis.
Also on Tuesday, the House of Representatives held a three-hour executive (closed-door) session to discuss the rising spate of insecurity across Nigeria.
It called on the President to declare a state of emergency on security.
The lawmakers unanimously adopted 11 resolutions, which the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, read to journalists after the meeting.
The House stated, “Considering the security situation, the President should immediately declare a state of emergency on security so as to fast track all measures to ensure the restoration of peace in the country.
The Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, described the security situation in his state and the North-East as very pathetic.
He regretted that many soldiers had been killed in the renewed onslaught.
Zulum disclosed these in an interview with State House correspondents after a meeting he had with Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Monday night.
The governor said he decided to meet with Buhari because he felt it was his responsibility to tell the President the truth.
He said the North-East needed support if the war against insurgency must be won.
Zulum said, “In Borno particularly, brigade headquarters was attacked, many soldiers, men and officers of the Nigerian Army were killed.
“Let me use this opportunity to extend my condolences to the families of the deceased. May God, in His infinite wisdom, forgive them.
“I think it is my own responsibility to come and say the truth to Mr President. Let him know what is going on in the entire North-East sub-region.
“I think there is the need for us to get support for us to succeed in this war against insurgents. It is very pathetic.
“Few days ago, Damasak was attacked, hundreds of people started fleeing Damasak and now Geidam (in Yobe State) is almost deserted, many people have left Geidam.”
When asked what could have been responsible for the deteriorating security situation in the North-East, the governor said it appeared the military had yet to take delivery of some of the equipment ordered for.
In a related development, the Niger State Governor, Bello, on Tuesday said Boko Haram had taken over all the cattle routes and tracks in the Kaure Local Government area of the state.
He also said the insurgent group demolished a local church, abducted women and hoisted their flag in the local government.
Bello, while featuring on Political Update, a current affairs programme on NTA, disclosed that the insurgents had married the abducted women.
Describing the situation as worrisome, the governor said the issue of insecurity in the state was not treated with kid gloves.
He noted that he had sent out signals in the last two years, adding that the response he got had not been in line with the threats.
He said, “The modus operandi of these people is different from bandits. Boko Haram elements want to scare people away from their land and take over the territory which to a certain extent they have succeeded in doing.
“ In Kaure for example they have dominated the area, they have demolished the local church that was there and they have hoisted their flag. They have also abducted the women and allocated them to their men on ground.
“The number of insurgents cannot be ascertained as of this moment but definitely their number supersedes that of the military operatives we have in the area. This area is in the forest region although not too far away. They operate on motorcycles. They have taken over all the cattle routes and tracks.” – Punch.