Worried by the criminal activities of bandits in many parts of the country, Nigeria’s Senate on Wednesday asked President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a total war on felons and declare them as terrorists. The Red Chamber resolved these at its Wednesday plenary. It called on Buhari to, as a matter of urgency, order the military to eliminate the bandits by bombing their hideouts.
The Senate also told the president to immediately declare all known leaders of the bandits wanted, and track them wherever they are for arrest and prosecution.
The resolutions followed the consideration of a motion on banditry in Sokoto State, sponsored by Senator Ibrahim Gobir.
Nonetheless, bandits, late on Tuesday, raided parts of Niger State, allegedly killing no fewer than 43 villagers. Details of how the incident happened were still sketchy at the time of filing this report due to the jamming of communication networks in the areas.
But the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Usman Baba, directed Assistant Inspectors-General (AIGs) in the Zonal Police Headquarters and Commissioners of Police in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to personally lead security operations across the country in order to maintain law and order during this year’s independence anniversary celebration.
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike identified politics of exclusion and absence of social justice as some of the causes of insecurity in the country.
Presenting the motion on the floor of the Senate, Gobir lamented that Sokoto East Senatorial District had become a safe haven for bandits following a crackdown on them by the military in Zamfara State. He expressed worry that on Saturday, September 25, about 21 security men were killed in Dama and Gangara villages by rampaging bandits.
According to the senator, out of those killed, 15 were soldiers, three mobile policemen, and three members of Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, in addition to yet to be ascertained number of civilians from the neighbouring villages.
Gobir stated, “This has gone to portray the seriousness of the problem, which requires concerted and urgent action by the declaration of total war on banditry.
“Losing such numbers of trained security personnel will further deplete the numerical strength of the security personnel we have in the country, therefore, jeopardising the security architecture of the country.”
According to him, most of the bandits have now relocated to Sabon Bimini and Isa local government areas due to the sustained military operations in the Zamfara axis.
The ranking senator observed that while the crackdown on the bandits was taking place in Zamfara State, no concrete measures were taken in Sokoto State to prevent a spillover from Zamfara, a situation that left the state exposed to the activities of bandits. He said the present military onslaught on the bandits was not well coordinated, stressing that it is only being orchestrated in Zamfara State, instead of all the frontline states ravaged by bandits.
Gobir called on the military to carry out a holistic operation on frontline states, such as Sokoto, Katsina, Niger, and Kaduna, in order to produce effective and desired results.
Speaking after the adoption of the motion, Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, commended the efforts of the armed forces in the fight against insecurity in the country. While calling for increased funding for the military, Lawan charged relevant committees of the National Assembly to ensure that funds appropriated for the armed forces were judiciously applied to the purposes they were budgeted.
The senate president said, “I think the issue of insecurity is one issue we will never get tired of debating here, and we must commend our armed forces and other security agencies. They give their lives in trying to secure this country, and that is the ultimate sacrifice anybody could pay. I believe that they are doing their best, but we also need to do our best as a government by giving them the kind of resources that they need.
“I believe we have done that in the supplementary budget, like I pointed out, but we also need to improve the annual appropriation for them. If we could pass over N800 billion in the supplementary budget, I don’t see why we cannot improve the resources up to N1 trillion and then hold our security agencies accountable.
“I believe that we need to monitor the procurement processes when we give such kind of resources to our armed forces. The security related committees, particularly, the armed forces related committees – Defence, Army, Navy and Air Force committees – need to work very closely on the procurement processes by these services. We must ensure that funds appropriated are not put in the wrong areas, and ensure that this fight is taken to its logical conclusion.”
The senate, accordingly, as part of its resolutions, directed the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and other relevant federal government agencies to, as a matter of urgency, give all the necessary support to the victims of bandits in Sokoto and other parts of the country. It also observed a minute silence in honor of the fallen heroes and civilians, who lost their lives in the unwholesome activities of the bandits.
Meanwhile, on the Niger raid last night, reports had it that the bandits were escaping from the military operations in parts of Zamfara and Kaduna states when they carried out the killings. They were also said to have set some houses ablaze and kidnapped an unknown number of persons.
Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, confirmed the story but did not give details.
In a related development in Sokoto State, three mobile policemen were reportedly killed on Tuesday, when bandits stormed Kagara town, the headquarters of Rafi Local Government Area. The marauders also kidnapped a large number of people from the Kagara market, where they first operated before ransacking the Emir’s palace in the town.
A source from the area told THISDAY last night that the monarch, who escaped kidnap, in company with the Commissioner for Police, was in Kagara town to assure the people that government was on top of the situation.
The SSG confirmed the death of three people in the Kagara incident
But the Inspector General of Police assured of maximum security during the independence anniversary celebrations.
A police statement said the force had put in place adequate security measures to protect the citizens, ensure the success of the activities lined-up for the anniversary celebrations, and prevent any untoward situation throughout the period of the celebration and beyond.
The statement said, “Consequently, the Assistant Inspectors General of Police and Commissioners of Police in all the zonal and state commands and the FCT have been directed to lead the independence anniversary security operations from the frontline.
“They are to ensure high visibility and confidence boosting patrols around the venues of the celebrations, residential areas and other places of public resort to prevent any infiltration by hostile elements.”
The IG pledged the unalloyed loyalty of the Nigeria Police to the sovereignty of the country as well as its unflinching commitment to combating criminality in the country and ensuring the safety of the citizenry. He called on citizenry to go about the celebrations in the most peaceful and law abiding manner, even as he appealed “for a new sense of pan-Nigerian spirit, patriotism, love and deliberate efforts by leaders at all levels at de-escalating ethnic tensions and suspicions in the land”.
The IG also enjoined the citizenry to continue to cooperate with the police and other security agencies in fighting crimes and criminality in the country.
Wike, who blamed politics of exclusion as well as the absence of social justice for insecurity in the country, also accused the federal government of failing to provide “responsible governance” that could promote sustainable governance. The governor spoke in Abuja at a lecture delivered at the National Institute for Security Studies (NISS), titled, “Governance, Security and Sustainable Development in Africa, Nexus, Challenges and Prospects: Rivers State as a Metaphor.” He took a swipe at those opposed to power shift, saying they are promoting injustice.
The lecture was delivered to the participants of the Executive Intelligence Management Course (EIMC 14), who were rounding-off their study at the NISS, preparatory to the award of the fellow of the security institute.
Wike stated, “What we have today cannot be said to be a responsive government that will provide all these. What we are hearing is excuse one, excuse two. It is terrible. So, if you don’t have a responsive governance, you will not have environmental sustainability, because it requires good governance.
“A sense of social justice, equity is fundamental to achieving peace, security and sustainable development, which only good governance can achieve. You cannot have this if you do not have good governance and you cannot talk about sustainable development when you don’t have good governance. It is practically impossible.
“Thus, among other structural and infrastructural variables, nothing can be more relevant to the progress of society than the practice of good governance, led by visionary, effective and transformational leadership as essential precondition for effective democracy, the rule of law, sustainable development, and enhancing the living conditions of ordinary people.
“Unfortunately, poor governance and bad leadership model continue to characterise Africa’s political, economic, security and social landscapes.”
He said those who held that zoning was unconstitutional were promoting inequity.
According to him, “I am sorry, people forget, when people say zoning is unconstitutional, but you know what is called equity. Equity brings peace. Let everybody be part of it. But the moment you begin to think that this is your own exclusivity, that nobody else, then it becomes a crisis.
“When you begin to see some people, to deny them certain things, that will lead to insecurity and with insecurity, you cannot achieve sustainable development. Take, for example, when the Igbo are crying to say, look, in appointment, you don’t recognise us, what is wrong in listening to them?
“What is wrong in sitting back and saying, look, we are all one, we want this country to be together in order for us to achieve sustainable development? Because, if you don’t include them, some of them will begin to believe that they are not part of the system.”
Wike recalled Buhari’s position on sections of the country that did not vote for him, saying, “Now, take for example, with all due respect, when Mr. President said ninety-something per cent of whatever will go to only those who voted for him, that alone will create crisis.
“That is not part of good governance. I don’t expect the president of a country to say, ‘I will only remember those who voted for me’. That is not democracy.”
Deji Elumoye, Kingsley Nwezeh, Juliet Akoje in Abuja and Laleye Dipo in Minna