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.
The lawmaker noted that the prevailing security problem is an indication that the nation’s security intelligence is severely compromised.
Another lawmaker, Senator Olubunmi Adetumbi (APC, Ekiti North), said the present security threat posed by banditry, kidnapping and insurgency were signaled in early warnings by the activities of Boko Haram and other criminal elements in the past which were ignored by government.
“What is so wrong with our system that makes us not to respect early warning signals? In the last ten years, there have been several reports in the open space that have given us indication that Nigeria, if not helped, may be entering into the situation we are describing at this point.
“Since 2013, Mr. President, the Fragile States Index analysis by Fund for Peace had already signaled to Nigeria that there could be trouble. The Global Terrorism Index for the last seven years has been saying the same thing. But nobody appears to be paying attention to these indicators that show that we might be entering into the situation we are at presently”, Adetumbi said.
The lawmaker further described the daily incessant cases of kidnapping and killings as a “national embarrassment”.
Senator Surajudeen Ajibola Bashiru (APC, Osun Central) observed that the National Assembly has a responsibility to setup a Committee to ensure the implementation of the recommendations of the Adhoc Committee on Security Challenges.
Gabriel Suswam (PDP, Benue North East) said the Executive arm of government “has shown clear incompetence in tackling the security situation.”
He expressed frustration at the inability by the National Assembly to implement the recommendations of the Senate Adhoc Committee on Security Challenges.
The lawmaker warned that the lives of members of the National Assembly are endangered, saying, killings have become rampant.
Senator Biodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti South) who bemoaned the recent killing of some students of Greenfield University by bandits, blamed the lingering insecurity in the country on the federal government’s lack of political will.
Another lawmaker, Emmanuel Yisa Oker-Jev (PDP, Benue Noth-West) raised alarm that every part of Nigeria has become affected by problems of insecurity, adding that, the notion of government treating security with kids gloves was understated.
Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC, Kogi West), who underscored the need to seek foreign intervention, lamented that the Nigeria’s security problems continue to worsen despite huge amount of monies appropriated to security agencies.
He said: “Mr. President, insecurity is a serious problem today in Nigeria, and there comes a time when you cannot but speak the truth, irrespective of the sentiments you may share.
“Today, Mr. President, all of us are being threatened – our families, our nation, our state.
“Mr. President, we need not run away from the fact, that more than ever before in the history of our nation, this is the worst instability we are facing. In fact, this is worse than the civil war.
“Mr. President, the submission is very simple. Today, there are a lot of misgiving and misinterpretation on what is happening.
“Some people believe some people in government are supporting this move. Some people believe some people sponsor those who are destabilizing our nation within the country.
“The answer is very simple, we cannot pretend we are capable of confronting the situation in our hands. America as powerful as they are, when the pandemic came, it got to a point that China had to come to their rescue.
“We shouldn’t pretend that we don’t need foreign support now. Let nobody deceive us. A lot of billions of naira has been voted for security services, nothing is coming out of it.
“We wouldn’t wait until our nation gets burnt. Let us shout and call for foreign support. I am an APC man and I’ve been supporting my party, but the President should get to know it has got to a point that we who are supporters and members of the APC can no longer keep quiet.”
Adeyemi continued: “The President must rise to the occasion. You will not see the truth and you are afraid to say it because you’ll die?
“Mr. President, the nation is on fire. The President must rise to the occasion, it costs us nothing to get foreign support. We must bring these people to save this country or else we will be consumed.
“It has gotten to a point that we cannot sleep with our two eyes closed, we are not free, our children are not free.
“The situation is, our security system has collapsed, it has failed. [And] because it has failed, we need to look for frothing support. It cost Nigeria nothing. Forget the ego, forget the superiority of Nigeria amongst African nations.
“Today, we are facing serious problems. If our nation is to survive this period, I’m not in doubt that the security infrastructure we have today cannot cope with what we are facing.
“Every part of this country is threatened, from the north to the south, nobody is safe, nobody can travel 50km in our nation.
“I feel like shedding tears for a country that we grew up where nobody harasses you when you travel from Lagos to Maiduguri. Today, I cannot travel from here to Kaduna or Niger State where I was born.
“The President must know this is a bad time for our nation. We must look for foreign support to save this nation. This is my position, Mr. President, we must rise to it.
“They are killing people in the East, West, South and the North. We should shut down the National Assembly. Let’s shut down if we cannot save this country.
“Our country is bleeding, people are in poverty, there’s no food, people are hungry, insecurity is threatening us, we cannot pretend. Everyday Nigerians are dying, we must rise to the occasion. I submit, Mr. President.”
Danjuma La’ah (PDP, Kaduna South) said the issue of security has for long been politicized.
Seriake Dickson (APC, Bayelsa West), observed that the recent development in Chad, which led to the death of its former President, Idris Derby, has far reaching implication on the security situation in Nigeria.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, in his remarks said, “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.”
Accordingly, the Senate in its resolutions, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to order for massive recruitment of Police and military personnel to arrest the issue of insecurity in the country.
While urging the Federal Government to urgently procure necessary equipment for the use of the Military, Police and Intelligence community, the Chamber called on the Chief of Defense Staff, the Chief of Army Staff and the inspector General of Police 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.
It also urged the Chief of Army Staff and the Inspector General of Police to, as a matter of urgency, direct for 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.
The Senate amid its prayers resolved to set up and Ad hoc Committee to consider and report on the implementation status on the report of the Ad hoc Committee on Security and recommend further implementation actions on the report.
The upper chamber directed the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and-NEMA to, as a matter national emergency, provide relief materials and medical support team to the victims immediately.
The Senate observed a minute silence for all the victims of acts of criminality.