Federal lawmakers in the Nigerian Senate on Tuesday, demanded for the immediate dismissal and replacement of the nation’s service chiefs and heads of other security agencies over lingering insecurity in the land.
The Senators, who called on President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of necessity, accept an offer of assistance made to him by the British Prime Minister, Theresa May on Monday, lamented what they called, “a lack of decisive action on the part of the executive to tackle the issue of herdsmen killings in parts of the country”.
Debating a motion under matters of urgent public importance, sponsored by Senator Suleiman Adokwe (PDP, Nasarawa State) on the renewed killings by herdsmen and criminal militia groups, the lawmakers noted that government’s inability to tackle unending killings in the land has endangered the nation’s democracy, as Nigerians have become increasingly disappointed and frustrated over failure of government to protect them.
The lawmakers, in venting their frustration and anger, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to, as a matter of urgency, seek international help in curbing growing insecurity in Nigeria.
Making a particular appeal to the President was the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who asked the President to accept British Prime Minister, Theresa May’s offer of assistance in curbing incessant killings in Nigeria.
He said: “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”.
Contributing to debate on the matter, Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (APC, Lagos), argued that there was need to inject fresh ideas into how the security problems in the country can be remedied.
He stressed that there is nowhere that is safe in Nigeria with the daily killings that the nation is regaled with.
“The security situation has not improved and what the president need at this time is fresh ideas on how to tackle numerous security challenges confronting the nation,” Adeola said.
Adeola further pointed out that for the President to address the security challenges, he must remove the incumbent service chiefs to give room for those with fresh ideas, adding that “the nation should do away with unproductive tenure elongation in areas where fresh ideas are needed”.
“We know the way the military organisations operates. Those with fresh ideas dare not come out against their superiors or else they risk premature retirement from service. So the current service chiefs should go to allow officers with fresh ideas address our alarming security issues,” he added.
Providing what seemed like a professional angle to the debate, Senator Jeremiah Useni (PDP, Plateau State), identified the constant clashes among security agencies as part of the security problems.
Useni, a retired Lieutenant General of the Nigerian Army, was of the opinion that heads of such agencies be removed to pave way for more harmonious relationship among security agencies.
However, Adokwe had while presenting his motion earlier said: “Throughout the weekend and up to the moment that I am speaking, herdsmen have unleashed terror and mayhem on the people of my senatorial district, leaving many dead bodies, numerous wounded persons and hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons. The victims are largely the Tiv speaking ethnic nationalities with a reported dead toll of 32 persons 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 of Southern senatorial district but the tragedy lies from the fact that for four days running, this mayhem continued unhindered, unchecked, unstopped by any arm of the law and security enforcement agencies”, he told bewildered colleagues.
The visibly shaken lawmaker lamented that “right under the noses of the armed forces and the police, this killing is sustained unabated 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 coming from government. This is a sad commentary.”
He wondered that despite the existence of an army base close to where this carnage is taking place there is no single shot fired by the army.
“It baffles me and beats my imagination that a whole enforcement agency of the Nigerian state will stand by and witness Nigerians being killed endlessly. Nobody can explain this.
“It is no wonder that very eminent Nigerian citizens have urged Nigerians to defend themselves because their life is in their own hands and no longer in the hands of the Nigerian security forces.
“I am very emotional on this matter and I am not one given to emotion very easily. But what I have gone through this weekend is very horrifying; it is very distressing and sad.
“It is as if we are in a lawless society where life is brutish, where there is absence of state powers. We call on the federal government to stop this carnage,” Adokwe submitted.
Senator Barnabas Gemade (APC, Benue), in his opinion said Nigeria is becoming a “state without control, a state that is experiencing anarchy and a state in which we have seen ethnic cleansing”.
According to him, “it is a shame that a sitting government could watch criminality go to the level that we have seen it today and rather than rise up and take very decisive steps against it, we embark on deniability and simply shield this evil by just explaining with flimsy excuses that these are communal clashes in those communities.
“I don’t understand why responsible people elected to control the governments of Nigeria will simply turn away from the reality of facing this matter squarely. And the Inspector-General will fly by helicopter to a town, land in the market square and be asking people whether there is militia in this town or not. And nobody whatsoever seems to call anybody to order. This is very sad. We have done enough of a minute silence for innocent Nigerians being killed.”
Aggregating the views, Ekweremadu who presided over the session noted that there’s no sense in making preparations for elections when the people don’t feel secured, adding that there can only be elections when there is a country.
“Deliberately, we have given this thing the attention and priority it deserves. As we have pointed out, 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 have to thank you, distinguished colleagues, for your patriotic contributions. We have listened to senators from different parts of the country – from the East to the West, North to the South – and we are united in condemning the killings. It is indeed very regrettable.
“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,” he said.
“America is also offering to help. We should not be reluctant to come out openly as say we need help, because what we have now is a global village.
“We cannot be asking people to come to Nigeria and invest their monies here. They will not! Rather, let us ask them to come and help us to solve our security problem.
“If we solve our security problem, they will come here, with nobody asking them to come. I think the first thing to do is to resolve the issue, and it is something we all need to do, and do it fast.
“We are representatives of the people. If they kill everybody, we will nobody to represent; we will have no job. We are not on appointments, we are representatives. If we have nobody to represent, nobody will have a job here. So, security is more important than any other thing that we do here”, he added.
He stressed that “if it gets to a level where we have to shut down this National Assembly and sit down with the executive for as long as it lasts to resolve the problem, we may have to do that”.
“I am happy that we have spoken today and everybody is concerned. I just want to appeal that we do not allow any situation to divide us as a Senate. Let us continue to speak with one voice until this matter is resolved.
“It is critical and people are very worried. We must have a country before we can talk about elections,” he added.