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Senators threaten impeachment, budget delay to force security action

By Adamu Abuh, John Akubo, Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Segun Olaniyi, (Abuja), Danjuma Michael (Katsina), Njadvara Musa (Maiduguri) and Abba Kabara, (Gusau)
16 December 2020   |   4:26 am
Against the backdrop heightened insecurity, especially the recent kidnap of over 300 hundred students in Katsina, senators, yesterday, threatened impeachment and suspension of Budget 2021 Bill...

Nigerian senate

*Reps demand implementation of ‘Safe Schools declaration’
*Zamfara closes boarding schools to avert attacks
*PDP condemns Buhari’s visit to cattle ranch
*Sultan seeks greater commitment from FG, govs

Against the backdrop heightened insecurity, especially the recent kidnap of over 300 hundred students in Katsina, senators, yesterday, threatened impeachment and suspension of Budget 2021 Bill to force President Muhammadu Buhari to act on the grave situation in the country.

Also, yesterday, the House of Representatives asked the authorities to urgently implement the Safe Schools Declaration to protect children and their teachers from attacks.

These came as Zamfara State closed boarding schools, northern elders, the Peoples Democratic Party, the Sultan of Sokoto, among others, raised the insecurity alarm to a higher pitch.

At the Senate, there was palpable anger as senators took turns to air their views on the deplorable security situation.

Debating on a motion sponsored by Senator Bello Mandiya (APC, Katsina South), which sought investigation into the missing students, senators rejected, angrily, a call to invite service chiefs and Inspector General of Police for deliberation.

They submitted that the country had moved into a state of total collapse and urged the President to take full responsibility for massive security failure.

In his contribution, Senator Olubunmi Adetunbu (APC, Ekiti North) asked President Muhammadu Buhari to remember and fulfil the pledge he made in Chatham House, London in 2015, to tackle insecurity head on across the country.

Buhari had on February 26, 2015 in a speech in Chatham House, said that if elected President, the world would have no cause to worry about Nigeria “as it has had to recently.” He promised that Nigeria would return to its stabilising role in West Africa and that no inch of Nigerian territory would ever be lost to the enemy because “we will pay special attention to the welfare of our soldiers in and out of service, we will give them adequate and modern arms and ammunitions to work with.”

BUT reacting, yesterday, former Senate minority leader, Abiodun Olujimi, suggested that the National Assembly should halt work on the 2021 Budget Bill to compel President Muhammadu Buhari to listen to suggestions from Senate.

She said: “The presidency is not an award, it is a call to duty. And when you call a man to duty, he must be able to know when the buck stops on his table. Right now the buck stops on the President’s table as far as security in this country is concerned.”

She argued that the time had come for the Senate to take drastic action before the budget.

“We must think outside the box, we must hold government accountable because this is the third arm and we are equal in all,” she contended.

Senate spokesman, Ajibola Basiru, said the National Assembly should amend existing laws to empower the Legislature to play serious roles in securing the country. Such amendments, according to him, should allow the National Assembly to mete out sanctions to erring public officers.

Also, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, lamented the failure of President Muhammadu to execute motions passed by the Senate on growing insecurity in the country. He expressed the need to activate Section 143 of the Constitution, which deals with impeachment and removal of the President. He, however, said the intention was not to remove the President but to send warning signals.
He was of the opinion that the Senate immediately begins to gather signatures of at least one third of its members to be attached to its resolutions and sent to the President to make him realise that the Senate has powers to sanction him.

Senator Sani Musa (APC, Niger State) urged his colleagues to take decisions that could change the situation, saying: “We cannot continue to be leaders when the people we are leading are dying everyday. What are the police doing? Yesterday, armed bandits were roaming streets of towns buying bread and geisha and nobody said anything. There is need to draw the attention of the President that enough is enough, the service chiefs should go.”

AT the House, representatives asked the authorities to urgently implement the Safe Schools Declaration to protect children and their teachers from attacks.

Adopting a motion sponsored by Musa Sarkin-Adar and 75 other lawmakers at the plenary presided by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, the House demanded an expedited action on the safe return of all abducted schoolchildren, from the incidents of Chibok to the most recent one at Kankara town in Katsina State.

They urged the authorities to forward the Safe Schools Declaration to the National Assembly for ratification and domestication.

It further called for a review of the security architecture of the country because of the seeming demonstration of diminishing returns.

Adar (Sokoto: APC) said the security challenges in the country, particularly in the North, were backsliding into the former state of affairs before the coming of this Administration in 2015.

He expressed concerns that the attacks and kidnappings had taken such a dangerous dimension that security agencies seemed to be overwhelmed.

Lawmakers’ reaction came as it was feared that two of the students kidnapped from the Katsina school had been killed by their abductors.

Mrs. Faiza Kankara, whose son is amongst those kidnapped, said one of the students that escaped from the attackers, claimed the kidnappers killed two of the students.

Kankara also said the student told them that while in captivity, they were made to go through inhumane experiences, including being flogged like animals and fed with wild flora.

Governor Masari had, in an interview with German radio, Deutsche Welle (DW) Monday evening, said 17 of the students had been found, and reunited with their parents.

SCARED by the Kankara kidnap incident, Zamfara State Government has ordered closure of 10 border schools with immediate affect.

The state Commissioner of Education Dr. Ibrahim Abdullahi Gusau, disclosed this, yesterday, to newsmen in his office.

He said the hovering insecurity facing the front line states of Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Kaduna and Zamfara could not be overlooked, stressing that in a situation like this “there is urgent need for proactive measure to stay safe”.

He said the schools affected include seven boarding and three day schools,

EXPRESSING worry over the crisis, northern elders, under the aegis Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and Development (CNEPD) condemned Monday disruption of security and peace summit at Arewa House in Kaduna by some hoodlums.

The elders described the action as heartless considering that the summit organised by the Coalition of Northern Group (CNG) was meant to address insecurity plaguing the north and fashion out ways of restoring peace to the region.

In a statement issued yesterday in Abuja by its National Coordinator, Engr. Zana Goni and National Women Leader, Mairo Bichi, condemned “in the strongest terms the heartless, evil and sponsored well-organised attack on our members and other well-meaning northern groups under the umbrella of Coalition of Northern Groups at Arewa House in Kaduna State, where we schedule to discuss the high-level insecurity in the country particularly the North.”

He said: “We strongly suspect that the hoodlums who carried out the act were sponsored by some highly placed people benefiting from insecurity in the North.”

THE Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad II, yesterday, renewed the call on the Federal Government and governors to end insecurity in the country.

The monarch made the call in Maiduguri, when he led a delegation of the National Council of Traditional Rulers (NCTRs) to sympathise with Governor Babagana Zulum over the recent slaying of Zabarmari farmers.

Describing the killing of innocent people as; “unacceptable with grief,” he also urged the military and other security agencies to take more decisive action to end threats to lives and property.

“We decided to come together as a council of traditional rulers to make this statement to all and sundry. This message is not only to Governor Zulum, but all other 35 governors to please rise up to the occasion.

“You should see how we can come together and fight this menace of shedding innocent people’s blood on a daily basis.”

WHILE the ruling All progressive congress (APC) expressed concern over the abduction of Katsina students, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) condemned President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to his cattle ranch instead of visiting Kankara.

APC’s Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee Chairman , Mai Mala Buni called on the nation’s security agencies to dig deeper and do better by ensuring that students could go to school safely and learn across the country.

The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, expressed dismay that Buhari could not cut short his unnecessary holiday and make efforts to rescue the abducted students.

“Indeed, the preference for the welfare of Mr. President’s cattle over the safety of our young students, who are now languishing in their abductors’ den, foregrounds APC’s disdain for Nigerians, for which it should never be entrusted with governance at any level in future,” it stated.