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Senate fears ethno-religious war, famine

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Schedules fresh debate on insecurity
• Lawmakers insist on rejigging security architecture
• Reject eviction notices
• Unite against divisive forces to avert war, Lawan tells leaders

Worried that the rising level of insecurity might result in ethnoreligious war, famine and related crises, the Senate has scheduled another marathon debate to address various security challenges.

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A seven-point motion on the matter was scheduled for debate yesterday but shifted to today because of the death of a member of the House of Representatives, Chinedu Prestige.

Sponsored by Senate’s Deputy Majority Leader, Robert Borroffice, the motion expressed fears that the nation had entered a phase, characterised by unabating terrorism, insurgency, banditry and kidnapping.

The motion, contained in the Order Paper, frowned on the practice of ejecting Nigerians from any part of the country.

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“Section 43 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is sacrosanct, as every citizen of Nigeria has the right to live and acquire property in any part of the country,” the motion stated.

It also expressed fears that “if the present spate of insecurity across the nation is not curtailed, it will lead to food insecurity and famine as many farmers can no longer access their farmlands.”

On how to address the issues, the motion urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the National Security Adviser and the new service chiefs and Inspector General of Police to rejig the nation’s security architecture and boost the morale of troops for the effective confrontation of security challenges, particularly in the rural areas.

It also urged governors to boost rural governance and promote local conflict resolution and inter-ethnic harmony.

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According to the motion, the Federal Government should checkmate the proliferation of firearms and enforce laws against illegal possession of firearms by arresting, disarming and punishing anyone in illegal possession of arms.

It equally asked state governors to implement the National Livestock Transformation Plan, a modern scheme designed to prevent farmer-herder conflicts and boost the livestock sector.

The motion added: “Security agencies must actively deploy drones and helicopters to monitor forests and ungoverned areas in Nigeria, to identify illegal camps of armed bandits.”

It also asked the Federal Government to equip the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to police and monitor borders, using technology to check illegal immigrants, check to smuggle of firearms and a light weapon.

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“ The Federal Government must resuscitate and inaugurate the National Task Force to combat the proliferation of light weapons, small arms and ammunition,” it added.

EARLIER, the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, called on leaders to unite against criminal activities of bandits, kidnappers and herdsmen/farmers conflict.

He also charged them to resist persons instigating inter-ethnic tensions across the country.

Lawan spoke while welcoming lawmakers back from Christmas/New Year recess.

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According to him, insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and militancy remain serious threats to the country and requires the collaborative effort of the Legislature and Executive to tackle.

He appealed for calm against inter-tribal agitations and conflicts in some states in the South West. He described the development as “worrisome” and one that required the immediate intervention of political leaders.

“Distinguished colleagues, the very recent emergence of inter-ethnic and inter-tribal conflicts in some parts of our country is worrisome. The Senate calls for calm. The situation also calls for leadership at all levels of government.

“Leaders must unite to fight and defeat criminality in the country. Leaders must also unite to fight any divisive and centrifugal sentiments and tendencies,” he said.

Lawan emphasised the need for legislative interventions to douse the heightening inter-ethnic tension in the country.

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