HERDSMEN ATTACK: Security chiefs must go – Senators

In one accord, Senators on Tuesday demanded the immediate sack of the country’s security chiefs for failing to curb killings by armed herdsmen and other criminal acts.

They said with the continued escalation of the herders’ killings, it was clear that the security chiefs were unfit for their jobs and should be eased out of office for capable hands to step in.

Their calls came barley a week after Senator Ennyinnaya Abaribe told the Senate that President Muhammadu Buhari lacked the capability and capacity to protect Nigerians from the raging killings by armed herdsmen.

The lawmakers who were provoked by last weekend’s massacre in parts of Nasarawa State by armed herdsmen said the country was drifting to a state of anarchy.

While the Upper House was reacting on the Point of Order raised by Senator Abaribe (PDP-Abia South) over a statement credited to President Buhari that the killer-herdsmen terrorising Nigerians were trained by the late Libyan leader, Muammar Gadaffi, the lawmaker had said that it was an indication that the nation’s number one citizen was not “competent to lead the country”.

At yesterday’s session, Senators became infuriated when Senator Sulaiman Adokwe (Nasarawa South) citing Order 43 of Senate Rules narrated the massacre of his constituents by armed herdsmen last weekend.

He said: “Herdsmen have unleashed mayhem on the people of my senatorial district, leaving many dead, numerous others wounded and hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons. Their victims are largely the Tiv-speaking ethnic nationalities with a reported dead toll of 32 and we are still counting.

“The real tragedy is not in the well-coordinated and simultaneous carnage across Awe, Obi, Keana and Doma Local Government Areas, but the tragedy lies in the fact that for four days running, this mayhem continued unhindered, unchecked, unstopped by any arm of the security agencies,” he lamented.

Adokwe continued: “Indeed, right under the noses of the armed forces and the police, this killing is sustained by sheer negligence or refusal to act by the security agencies. It is very sad that in Nigeria, with all the security forces, a whole senatorial district will go on being punished by militia and no action came from the government. This is a sad commentary.

“It was even with impunity that we woke up yesterday (Monday) to see that the entire city of Abuja was under siege. This country is gradually falling into anarchy and we need to wake up to our responsibilities. It is very sad that corpses are being littered everywhere.

“As I speak to you, my senatorial district has been completely emptied by the militia and they are occupying all the houses and villages of the Tiv people across all local government, up to five of them, and they are just within 30 minute-drive from the state capital, Lafia.

“There is even a Nigerian Army base close to where this carnage is taking place with no single shot fired by soldiers. It beats my imagination that a whole enforcement agency of the Nigerian state will stand by and witness Nigerians being killed. Nobody can explain this,” he said.

Seconding the motion, Senator Barnabas Gamade (Benue North-East) expressed the fear that the situation was getting out of hand and that unless there is urgent steps to arrest the trend, it would consume the entire nation.

“I want to state very clearly that this country is becoming a state without control, it is becoming a state that is experiencing anarchy.

“It is a state in which we have seen ethnic cleansing, and when statements like this are made by very senior nationalists, many people try to trivialise it.

“And it is a shame that a sitting government could watch criminality go to the level that we have seen it today. Rather than rise up and take very decisive steps against it, we embark on denials and simply shield this evil with flimsy excuses that these are communal clashes.

Indeed, the carnage in Nasarawa South affects mainly people of my ethnic group, who are in large population there. It is the same kind of killing that is going on Goma, Logo and Gwer West Local Government Areas in Benue State. And it is the same kind of killing we are witnessing in Wukari and Takum Local Government Areas. It is targeted at a particular ethnic nationality, which is my people,” he said.

Senator Solomon Adeola (APC, Lagos West) called for the immediate removal from office of all the security chiefs as they have failed to proffer solutions to the continued loss of hundreds of lives of Nigerians.

He said: “I want to commend the leadership of the Senate for the security summit it organised recently and the report and recommendations. But the security situation has not improved and what the President needs at this time, is fresh ideas on how to tackle the security challenges confronting the nation”.

Adeola argued that the only way out of the present situation was to get fresh ideas for the President to address the security challenges is to remove the security chiefs to give room for those with fresh ideas, stressing that Nigeria should do away with unproductive tenure elongation in areas where fresh ideas were needed.

“We know the way the military organisations operate. Those with fresh ideas dare not come out against their superiors or else they risk premature retirement from service. So, the current security chiefs should go to allow officers with fresh ideas address our alarming security issues,” he stated.

Senator Jeremiah Useni (PDP, Plateau State) identified the constant clashes among security agencies as part of the problems.

He said that heads of such agencies should be removed to pave way for more harmonious relationship among security agencies.

The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, noted that the ugly trend had been given sufficient attention by majority of senators at the plenary.

He said that the primary purpose of government anywhere in the world is the preservation of the lives of citizens.

“If citizens are being killed, we owe the responsibility as a parliament to give it the desired attention. And we will never stop talking about these killings. Unless it stops, we will never be tired of speaking about it.

“I ask myself: assuming this is happening in America, in the United Kingdom or France, will it take all this time to be resolved? As we know not even in South Africa. But it appears that we are taking too many things for granted.

“The time has come for us to seek help from other countries as some of us have suggested here. We should not be ashamed to ask for help. The President met with the UK Prime Minister and she was of the opinion that Britain would help us security wise. America is also offering to help.

“We cannot be asking people to come to Nigeria and invest their monies here. Rather, let us ask them to come and help us to solve our security problems,” he said.

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