Benue Killings: Your observations are “incorrect”, Buhari tells Saraki

Senate President, Bukola Saraki and President Muhammadu Buhari. [Photo credit: Nigeria Today]
Senate President, Bukola Saraki and President Muhammadu Buhari. [Photo credit: Nigeria Today]

President Muhammadu Buhari has taken a swipe at Senate President Bukola Saraki in a recent letter to the top lawmaker on the lingering crisis in Benue and other states in central Nigeria.

In the January 25 letter addressed to Mr. Saraki, Mr. Buhari enumerated the actions so far taken by his government towards resolving the crisis that has left hundreds dead within the past one month alone.

The president said his government has taken a series of actions that included ordering security chiefs to move to the epicentre of the crisis while senior cabinet officials were asked to find political solutions where possible.

Mr. Saraki had earlier last month led the Senate to reach a string of strongly-worded resolutions about the crisis and the failings or outright inability of the Buhari administration to forestall it.

The lawmakers’ resolutions followed the spate of killings in Benue State, including the January 1 suspected herdsmen rampage that left more than 70 villagers dead and the January 8 killings of police officers in the state.

On Wednesday, Governor Samuel Ortom imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew following police’s confirmation that seven Fulani travellers had been lynched and set alight in Gboko, an industrial town about 90 kilometres southeast of Makurdi, the state capital.

After listing all his interventions, which ranged from a deployment of special forces and a broad-based consultation with key parties to the violence, Mr. Buhari said it was wrong for the Senate to accuse him of doing too little about the crisis.

“To infer, therefore that nothing has been done is incorrect,” Mr. Buhari told Mr. Saraki in the letter which was read on the floor of the Senate Thursday. “The police are strenuously working to apprehend the rest of the culprits of these heartless killings.”

A spokesperson for Mr. Saraki, Yusuph Olaniyonu, declined comments about the president’s jab at his principal Thursday evening.

“There is no question I can take on that,” Mr. Olaniyonu said. “The letter was read on the floor of the Senate and the appropriate response has been issued.”

The president first ordered the Inspector-General Ibrahim Idris to move to Benue in the second week of January, a directive he emphasised in his letter to Mr. Saraki.

“Furthermore, I have instructed the Inspector General of Police to relocate to Benue State, redeploy forces to the most sensitive areas.

“The Federal Government is initiating additional measures to address these and other security challenges, alleviate the consequences of these attacks and forestall reoccurrence,” the president said.

Still, the president said, key elements of the Senate’s resolutions would be looked into for prompt action.

“The Senate Resolutions itemised in your letter will be taken into consideration and I am instructing all relevant MDAs to factor them in their work,” the president said in the letter which was made available to PREMIUM TIMES by presidential spokesperson Femi Adesina Thursday afternoon.

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