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Buhari under fire over insecurity

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Adamu Abuh, Joke Falaju (Abuja), Kelvin Ebiri (Port Harcourt), Seye Olumide, Sulaimon Salau (Lagos) and Danjuma Michael (Katsina)
03 May 2019   |   4:28 am
Troubled by the worsening insecurity in the country, the House of Representatives yesterday summoned President Muhammadu Buhari.

President Muhammadu Buhari

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Troubled by the worsening insecurity in the country, the House of Representatives yesterday summoned President Muhammadu Buhari. The legislative chamber wants Buhari to explain the measures he has put in place to restore peace.

The lawmakers’ move came against the background of bandits’ attacks on Daura, the hometown of Buhari in Katsina State on Wednesday. The attacks led to the abduction of Alhaji Musa Umar, the district head of Daura, reported to be the father of the wife to Buhari’s aide de camp.

The incident followed Monday’s kidnap of the board chairman of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Muhammed Mahmood, and his daughter along the Kaduna-Abuja highway.

And yesterday, the Police Command in Zamfara confirmed the kidnap of five persons at the Government Girls Secondary School, Moriki, in Zurmi Local Government Area of the state. The Police Public Relations Officer, Muhammad Shehu, however, clarified that no student was abducted.

Adopting a motion moved by Mr. Ali Madaki during the plenary session of the House presided over by Speaker Yakubu Dogara, the lawmakers also urged the authorities to declare a state of emergency in Safana/ Batsari/ Dan-Musa Federal Constituency to contain the deadly activities of the heavily armed bandits in the area.

Urging the security agencies to flush out criminal elements in the area, the House also urged the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to urgently provide relief materials to those who fell victim of the attacks.

Madaki (PDP, Kano), whose motion was prompted by the one initiated by Ahmed Sefana, said it was unfortunate that the security situation in the country was worsening by the day in spite of several interventions by the National Assembly.

He urged the House to interface with President Buhari to proffer solutions to the problem of insecurity in the polity.

Dogara ruled in favour of the motion despite opposing voices from a section of the lawmakers who felt it was needless asking Buhari to appear before the House.

In his motion, Safana (Katsina: APC) lamented that the recent attacks on his constituents had reached an alarming stage as the perpetrators continuously kill innocent persons and set their homes ablaze while defenceless men and women are abducted.

He lamented the ordeals of residents of four villages in his constituency, including Kasai in Batsari Local Government Area where no fewer than five persons have been killed; Alhazawa in Safana Local Government Area; and Guzurawa in Safana Local Council, all in Katsina State .

He also said some persons were murdered in Gobirawa with no fewer than 12 bodies littering the bush, while many were still missing.

“These killings have continued unabated as these bandits seem to be unstoppable. At Gobirawa village in Safana local government, the bereaved villagers were forced to abandon the bodies during the burial and scampered for safety when they sighted the bandits coming back to launch another offensive.

“ These bandits who operate both at night and in broad daylight on motorbikes, parade sophisticated weapons, including AK 47 assault rifles, which they use in committing heinous crime against my constituents.”

He said despite persistent cries from the affected communities, the security operatives failed to respond to keep the peace.

Babale Bashir (Kano: APC) said he could not understand why the North was at the receiving end of the nefarious activities of bandits and kidnappers even when virtually all the service chiefs hail from the region.

He said there was an urgent need to probe not only the origin of the attackers but how they acquired the sophisticated weapons at their disposal.

According to Gabriel Onyerire (Anambra: APGA), the worsening insecurity underlines the fact that Nigeria is fast becoming a failed state, adding that the executive and not the legislative arm should be held responsible for the problem.

Abubakar Adamu Chika (Niger: APC) who broke into tears while baring his mind on the issue, lamented that he could no longer spend the night in his village out of fear for his life.

On its part, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) charged Buhari to end his “private visit” overseas and immediately return home to tackle the insecurity.

The party said it was unacceptable for Buhari “to practically abandon his responsibilities as the commander-in-chief, to pursue unexplained private matters in foreign lands, while bandits, marauders and insurgents seize our nation; maim, kidnap and kill our citizens with reckless abandon.”

A statement by the PDP through its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday alleged that “President Buhari’s inattention has emboldened insurgents and bandits to continue to over-run communities, unleash mayhem and bloodletting on citizens in Borno, Zamfara, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe Taraba, Kaduna, Benue and Kogi states, including Katsina, his own state.”

According to the opposition party, “Within this period, marauders invaded communities in Adamawa and killed no fewer that 26 innocent Nigerians; many more have been killed in Borno, Taraba, Benue and Zamfara states, where bandits also reportedly attacked the Government Girls Secondary School in Moriki.”

PDP further claimed that “While the Buhari administration remains virtually nonchalant, kidnappers have taken over many of our major highways, with hundreds of compatriots held in captivity in forests along Kaduna-Abuja, Taraba-Katsina-Ala and other highways in the country.”

According to the PDP, Buhari has not demonstrated required capacity to control the security situation and so has “resorted to cheap escapism, particularly in the face of allegations in the public space that certain individuals around his administration are benefitting from the situation.

“This is in addition to allegations that some of the bandits arrested, in states such as Katsina, are not Nigerians but aliens allegedly imported by the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Niger Republic to assist it in unleashing violence and rigging the 2019 general elections.” The PDP urged the police to investigate this claim.

On what should be done to curb insecurity, an expert, Dr. Ferdinand Ikwang, canvassed the setting up of state defence services, saying this would prevent a conflict with the Federal Government since the 1999 Constitution, as amended, clearly designates the president as the one in charge of security and well-being of the people.

Ikwang pointed out that while the constitution says the governors shall run their states in such a way that they do not come in conflict with any activity of the Federal Government, the same constitution does not say they cannot set up self-defence force or services.

“That is where the governors miss it. They go to set up vigilance teams which are non-state actors. They should set up self-defence forces until we can restructure. Every governor has a right to do that,” he said.

The director, Social Development Integrated Centre, Dr. Issac Osuka, decried insecurity along the East-West Road in Rivers State.

“When a country or state, irrespective of the political system in operation, fails to protect the rights, livelihood and security of its citizens, then we have a crisis,” he added.

Also, the Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, said it had warned for decades that Nigeria was going under, not only as a result of insecurity but also in every other sector of the economy.

The Spokesman of the group, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, said the challenges of security in the country were multifaceted and not restricted to terrorism .

“We also have economic insecurity where millions of people are living in abject poverty and are dying of minor illness and even of hunger.

“Nigeria is bound to fail unless it is restructured to true federalism. Insecurity is not likely going to reduce as long as the current security architecture is sustained.”

He wondered how the Inspector General of Police (IGP) would move from state to state to contain insecurity. Odumakin also lambasted those in power, saying they are only comfortable in the corridor of power without necessarily wanting to face the reality of what Nigeria needs to survive or move on as a nation.

But the President General of the Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze, Dr. Nnia Nwodo, blamed the media for not living up to expectation in interrogating the activities of government in the security sector and others.

Nwodo, who spoke with The Guardian on the telephone yesterday urged the media to move from its fire brigade approach in reporting to focusing on sensitive issues like insecurity.

According to him, “Nigeria is ungovernable under the present imposed unitary constitution of 1999. It is obvious that the present system is incapable of providing solution to the insecurity challenges. Every security matter remains local; I therefore do not see where an IGP and other security chiefs would stay in Abuja and hope to contain insecurity in my village.”

He said that beyond the present kidnapping and other insecurity vices, “another danger the country is facing is the amount of international intrusion to Nigeria’s security system. The media must interrogate how enemies are now recruited into the military. The Fourth Realm of the Estate should pay attention to some ex-Boko Haram terrorists who claimed to have repented and are now allegedly recruited into the army. Our nation does not have the capacity to tackle its security challenges under the present configuration of government. How can you have internal security when those who pose threat to our security are now being shortlisted as our security personnel?” he queried.

A leader of the Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Isuwa Dogo, called for the overhaul of the security system, saying, the defence chiefs and other heads of security agencies had no business remaining in office.

To Dogo, it is wrong for Nigeria to be fighting insurgent as if it were engaging in a conventional war.

“If our country is serious about fighting terrorism, it must first cut off the network of arm and ammunition supply, food and financial supply. The Sambisa Forest, for example, is not the entire Nigeria, therefore it must not be impossible for the security agencies to apply intelligence to comb the forest and make it impossible for terrorists to operate from there.”

The President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Alhaji Yerima Shetimma indicted the security agencies and accused them of having failed in their responsibilities.

According to him, “It is enough for any serious country to revamp its security apparatus if a citizen is killed, not to talk of where 30 or more are dying on a daily basis due to terrorist acts and our security chiefs are walking shoulder high.”