Just like they spent the most part of last year, Nigerian senators have resumed plenary this year with deliberations on pervasive insecurity in the country.
The day’s debate, “General Insecurity in Nigeria” was sponsored by 107 senators. It was the major item on the order of the day and the debate lasted for about an hour.
The Senate Deputy Leader, Ajayi Borrofice, who led the motion, cited recent attacks in nine states – all of which occurred this year alone.
Most lawmakers who contributed to the debate faulted the federal government for doing very little or nothing to end the insecurity. A lawmaker also indicted the Fulani ethnic group as he said most of the bandits are sponsored by the elites of the group.
The motion was deliberated despite the resignation of the former service chiefs and appointment of new ones.
In 2020, the ninth Senate dedicated most of their time to debating issues of insecurity across the country as well as possible solutions. These debates were borne out of several attacks from different states with representatives calling out the federal government to act.
On three occasions, they asked President Muhamadu Buhari to sack the former service chiefs whom they said have overstayed their time and bereft of new ideas to tackle insurgency. They made the first call call in January 2020. A similar call was made in July. And the third call was made in December of the same year.
Also on each of these occasions, they asked the president to either rejig, restructure, remodel or reposition the nation’s security architecture.
The presidency on January 26, announced the resignation of the former service chiefs and appointed a new set.
Lawmakers took turns to make their contributions during the debate portraying different emotions.
Leading the debate, Mr Boroffice cited recent reports of killings in nine states in January 2021 alone. They include Ondo, Edo, Oyo, Imo and Kaduna States.
Others are Zamfara, Niger, Nasarawa and Kebbi States.
He said security challenges have led to issuance and counter issuance of eviction notices by some ethnic entrepreneurs and groups posing as ethnic nationalists and champions.
He said even though many perpetrators of killings, kidnappings and banditry are illegal immigrants, they are harboured and nourished by Nigerian informants, collaborators and arm suppliers.
While he expressed concern that many Nigerians have injected ethnic sentiments into insecurity issues, he said the present spate of insecurity across the nation if not curtailed, will lead to food insecurity and famine as many farmers can no longer access their farmlands.
Kogi senator, Smart Adeyemi, noted that most bandits carrying out crimes across the country are foreigners and urged the president to seek international help where needed.
“It is not a sign of weakness if the president asks for international support when this issue of insecurity gets out of hand.
“Today we are talking about N500 billion for COVID-19 intervention. Nigeria’s problem is beyond COVID-19. That N500 billion is needed to fight insurgency not for COVID-19.”
Biodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti) said Nigeria is in a state of denial else insecurity would have been declared a national emergency just COVID-19.
“Right now, we are an endangered species. People are going into homes to adopt, to rape, herdsmen are everywhere. We have spoken several times and nothing has been done. Posterity beckons.
“We should declare insecurity a national emergency so that everybody will start to work on it as we are working on COVID-19. The figures that are coming out of insecurity are higher than the figures from COVID-19, the deaths are more,” she said.
‘Fulanis being sponsored’
Adamawa senator, Binos Yaroe, stirred mixed reactions when he said the topic should be ‘the menace of Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria.’
Every time kidnappers are arrested, he said, “seven or eight turn out to be Fulani”.
“It is so because the Fulani men are being encouraged or allowed to do whatever they like. Recently, a Fulani herder was accused of causing mayhem and kidnapping a district head and in his response, he said, ‘we are not learned, we don’t know anything.
“The only thing we know is to graze our cows in the bush, it is you learned Fulanis that buy guns and give us and send us on missions. These people are being supported in high places. It must stop.”
His comments generated murmuring in the chamber and the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, was forced to caution him. Mr Lawan warned lawmakers not to stick the conversation to a particular ethnic group.
Abdullahi Adamu (APC, Nasarawa) wondered why “a governor of a state will ask people who are not indigenes of his state to leave his state” making reference to Governor Rotim Akeredolu’s quit order to bandits two weeks ago.
This is even as he stressed the need to find out the exact “truth or otherwise of these allegations of killings as reported.”
A seemingly unhappy Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia), noted that no Nigerian is being set away from anywhere, rather criminals are being sent away from the forest where they are.
“When we come here and say such, you send the wrong message out. The message is simple, the police IG has told us, these are criminal elements coming from outside Nigeria and what we should ask ourselves is, if someone is a criminal, and he is in the forest, what is he doing there?
“We should not water down the issue to please whatever…We either want to solve this problem or not and in order to solve the problem, the desideratum is that all criminal elements coming into this county must be flushed out.”
The lawmakers, thereafter, urged the president to direct the National Security Adviser, the IGP and the newly nominated service chiefs “to devise a proposal to rejig the nation’s security architecture and dispose of forces for more effective counter measures against the current security challenges”.
They also urged the federal government “to embark on an operation to checkmate proliferation of firearms and enforce the laws against illegal possession of firearms by arresting, disarming and punishing anyone in illegal possession of arms, and for state governors to implement the National Livestock Transformation Plan – a modern scheme designed to eliminate transhumance in order to prevent farmer-herder conflicts and activate highly productive livestock sector in Nigeria”.
They called on security agencies to deploy drones and helicopters to monitor forests and ungoverned areas in Nigeria
The senators also asked the federal government to resuscitate and inaugurate the National Task Force Commission to combat the proliferation of light weapons, small arms and ammunition.
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