By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The Senate, on Tuesday, mandated its leadership to schedule an appointment with President Buhari to enable all 109 Senators to meet with him in a closed session to discuss security matters in the country.
The red chamber also 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.
“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.
Contributing, the Deputy Whip, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi (APC, Niger North) said Niger State have 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.
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.
“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.