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Sentiments overtake Senate’s debate on insecurity

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Robert Ajayi Boroffice


Ethnic, religious and regional sentiments, yesterday, marred the Senate debate on the deplorable state of security across the country.

Senator Ajayi Boroffice and 105 other senators sponsored had sponsored a motion seeking serious measures to tackle terrorism, banditry and kidnapping in the country.

Presenting the motion, Borroffice feared that worsening insecurity might result in ethno-religious war, famine and related crises.

He also said the nation was entering a phase in governance trajectory characterised by prolonged terrorism, insurgency, banditry and kidnapping.

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He warned that if the trend was not checked, it would lead to food insecurity and famine as many farmers had not been able to access their farms.

Debate on the motion, which lasted over two hours, became tense when a former Nasarawa State governor, Abdullahi Adamu, condemned the threat to ejecting Fulani herdsmen from any state in the country.

In a veiled reference to the quit notice to unregistered herdsmen to quit Ondo forest reserves by the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, the lawmaker expressed shock that a governor, who should protect the rights of every citizen, issued quit notice to his citizens.

But Senator Abiodun Olujimi (Ekiti South), in response, argued that insecurity had persisted because political leaders had continued to live in denial of the real issues. She argued that insecurity ought to have been declared a national emergency long time ago if the leadership of the country was serious, warning posterity would not forgive the present leaders of the country if they fail to adopt the right measures to address to tackle insecurity.

Olujimi said: “We are all in denial on the issue of insecurity. If we are not, we would have declared insecurity a national emergency. If we declare a national emergency, the government would have deployed all resources to fight the menace. We are endangered species. People are being killed and kidnapped in their homes. We have spoken severally and nothing has been done. We must declare insecurity a national emergency on insecurity as we do for COVID. The death toll from insecurity is more than the figure from coronavirus.”

TENSION heightened when Senator Yaros Binos Dauda, (Adamawa South), rose in sharp condemnation of herders and even alleged that Fulani herdsmen were responsible for criminal activities.

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According to him, the title of the motion ought to have been “The menace of Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria.” He said it was sad that people in top positions were encouraging criminal herdsmen.

In a bid to prevent tension from worsening, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, interjected, advising that ethnic groups or tribes should not be mentioned in the debate.

Lawan said: “I advise you don’t ascribe this kind of insecurity to any group; remember some people will say some of these people are not from Nigeria. I will advise we stick to these criminal elements without calling Fulani. Fulani is an ethnic group, they are not also spared, many Fulani have been killed. So we need everybody on board in the fight to win against criminality.”

But Lawan’s intervention came late as earlier remarks by Abdullahi had attracted the anger of some other lawmakers.
Senate Minority leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, swiftly expressed his disappointment. He said he wouldn’t have wanted to comment on the motion, but needed to respond to a development.

He said: “Ordinarily I didn’t want to say anything until I heard certain things on this floor. I am an Igbo man and our people say, when a traditional healer is making medicine from herbs, you don’t find pepper nearby because any pepper that goes into the herbs means that medicine would not work.

“I want to talk specifically on the matter on whether people were being sent away. No Nigerian is being sent away from anywhere; criminals are being sent away from the forest reserves where they are. So when we now come here and say some people are sending people away, you send the wrong message. 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 that if somebody is a criminal and he is in the forest what is he doing inside the forest?

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“We want to differ over matters of this nature to please whatever. What I want to say is simple; we either solve this problem, and in order to solve it, all criminal laments that are coming into this country from wherever they are must be flushed out.”

Similarly, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti) said people do not have the right to trespass on other people’s property.

He urged governors to take charge of their states, arrest criminals and prosecute anyone caught on other people’s property, according to the law.

Senator Tolu Odebiyi (Ogun West) described as completely unacceptable the idea of rewarding persons that failed in their assignment to secure the country. The lawmaker said Nigeria had to be more proactive in addressing issues of insecurity.

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