Zarbamari killings: Replace, Probe Security Chiefs, Senate Tell Buhari

The Senate has urged President Muhammadu Buhari, to as a matter of urgency, initiate a transitionary process of phasing out the current over-stayed security chiefs and replacing them with new ones with new ideas and solutions.

The call on the President was made on Tuesday during plenary amidst the upper chamber’s resolutions, sequel to the consideration of a motion, “Beheading of 67 Farmers in Borno by Boko Haram Insurgents: Need for Urgent Decisive Action.”

The motion was sponsored by Senator Kashim Shettima (APC – Borno Central).

The Senate in its nine-point resolutions prayed the President to take immediate steps to restructure, remodel and revamp the country’s entire security architecture and provide enough state-of-the-art weapons and equipment to effectively combat the belligerent power of the insurgents.

It also urged the President to immediately initiate probe into widespread allegations of corruption and leakages within the security structure and put mechanisms in place to foster transparency and ensure all resources meant and deployed for security are actually spent on the needs on ground.

In addition, the upper chamber called on the Federal Government to aggressively explore multilateral and bilateral options of partnership with the neighbouring nations of Chad, Niger and Cameroons towards reviving and strengthening the Multinational Joint Task Force and finding a lasting solution to the scourge of insurgency in the Lake Chad region.

Accordingly, it urged the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency, recruit at least 10,000 Civilian JTF, versatile with the local terrain in Borno as Agro-Rangers under the aegis of the NCDSC to complement the efforts of the Nigerian Armed Forces.

Consequently, the Senate also directed the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA); the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry; and the North East Development Commission (NEDC) to provide Succour and psychological support to the bereaved families.

While calling on the Federal Government to undertake recruitment of more personnel into the Armed Forces, the Upper Chamber advocated proper welfare for security personnel fighting in the frontlines and give prime attention to the compensation and welfare of fallen soldiers as that would boost the soldiers morale and aid their concentration.

It also called on the Federal and State Governments to adequately address all immediate and remote causes of insecurity in the nation, which must include comprehensive packages on education, employment and other social vices.

Coming under Order 42 and 52, Senator Shettima in his motion “Notes that Borno State has been the epicenter of the despicable activities of Boko Haram for over decade during which a conservative estimate of 40,000 people – mostly unarmed civilians – were brutally murdered, 2.5 million people displaced from their homes and farms, property worth trillions of naira wantonly destroyed and over 7 million people – mostly women and children – plunged into dire humanitarian needs.

According to the lawmaker, the fight to control the border axis of the North-Eastern part of this country has claimed thousands of lives (Military and Civilian alike). That the fallen men and women of our military, police and CJTF are our National Heroes whom we must remember, pray for and care for their loved ones till the end of time.

“Aware that over the weekend, Boko Haram insurgent members beheaded 67 farmers who had gone to a rice plantation at Kwashabe village in Zabarmari District of Jere Local Government Area, 20 kilometres north of Maiduguri, Borno State Capital to harvest ripe farm produce and destroyed the farm;

“Observes that this attack is one of the major attacks perpetrated by this devilish group in addition to the February attack in Auno that killed 40 people, the assault in Foduma Koloram village of Gubio that killed almost 100 civilians in last June while another attack in Usman Lawanti left another 40 dead;

“Further observes that last month, Boko Haram fighters killed 22 farmers working on irrigation fields near Maiduguri in two separate incidents;

“Further observes that while Nigerian army’s Super Camp strategy has commendably helped in reducing military fatalities, it has left rural areas, farms and road acutely exposed to attacks;

“Further observes that, as the Wall Street Journal documented in a recent report and as supported by the testimonies of victims and survivors, while Maiduguri and other major cities are relatively safe, thanks to the efforts of this administration, Boko Haram insurgents are literally ruling our rural areas and farms such as the Damaturu-Maiduguri road especially around Jakana, Damboa-Maiduguri and Damaturu-Dapchi road where they mount checkpoints, rob, kill, destroy and abduct at will;

“Further observes that the recent spike on deliberate, consistent and systematic targeting of herders, fishermen, loggers and now farmers will exacerbate the major food crisis in the North, lead an unprecedented surge in food prices across Nigeria and seriously damage our country’s economy;

“Further observes that we have watched verifiable footages of Nigerian soldiers struggling to quench thirst or feed themselves while trying hard to contain deadly advances of the insurgents. A case study in this is the lamentation on record last year of the former Commandant of Operation Lafiya Dole, General Olusegun Adeniyi, that his men lack the basic weapons and equipment to successfully fight Boko Haram;

“Disheartened that more than 67 citizens were beheaded while they were working in their farmland without any form of resistance or challenge from the Security Agencies stationed a few kilometres away;

“Worried that the Nigerian military in conjunction with other Security Agencies up till today have not been able to quell the insurgency affecting the region despite the slogan by Government officials that the insurgents have been technically defeated;

“Concludes that we cannot as a nation move forward until the lives of every Nigerian is protected and secured as the primary objective of government is the security and the protection of its citizens. Protecting the lives and property of citizens is the primary obligation of government and any government that cannot discharge this basic obligation losses any iota of legitimacy.”

Senator Ahmad Baba Kaita (APC – Katsina), while throwing his weight behind the deployment of the Joint Task Force to the North East, lamented that despite huge allocations to the Defence Ministry, very little has been achieved in the area of guaranteeing the security of lives and property in the North East region.

“I totally agree that the President is doing his best, but doing your best is not enough when the result cannot be seen on ground, and this is what is happening.

“It’s not all about money, this National Assembly has increased the budget year in, year out, to the security apparatus of this country, yet the more we give money, the more attacks we have,” he lamented.

On his part, Senator Ali Ndume (APC – Borno South) bemoaned the delay in the implementation of the report of the National Assembly by the Executive arm if government, on measures needed to be undertaken towards an overhaul of the nation’s security infrastructure.

The first report that we submitted to this Senate was not implemented. The second report was also not implemented. We have made several suggestions in this Senate, and nothing was done.

“Mr. President, this Senate needs to move a step further to save this country.

Citing Section 14 (1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the lawmaker emphasized that while sovereignty belongs to the Nigerian people, the primary purpose and responsibility of the Federal Government shall be to guarantee the security and welfare of citizens.

“Mr. President, before us is a budget of N13 trillion, and to the army, we are budgeting N27 billion for its capital.

“The figures when looked at is on the high side. Defence has over N800 billion; and more than N500 billion and another N100 billion for operation Lafia dole. That makes me to agree with my distinguished colleague that there is the need to look into this.

“We pay people, and they don’t have the arms or ammunitions. I can tell you authoritatively that until now, people at the war front are sharing ammunitions.

“If you’re not told that these are soldiers, you would not be able to tell the difference between them and Boko Haram, because they are not well kitted. Some of them don’t have bullet proof vests or helmets.

“I have gone round, and I have not seen a soldier holding a brand new AK-47. When you brand new AK-47, it is only in Abuja here with the Brigade of Guards,” the lawmaker said.

Senator Adamu Aliero (APC – Kebbi Central) on his part faulted President Muhammadu Buhari for not deeming it fit to visit Borno State following the killing of the farmers.

The lawmaker while noting that, “the humanitarian situation in the northeast is nothing to write about”, said the “Service Chiefs have outlived their usefulness”, therefore, “it is time to inject new blood”.

In his concluding remarks, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said, “I believe that the National Assembly has taken the issue of insecurity very seriously. We have always given attention to it.

“We have to take additional steps to insist that our resolutions are respected and implemented, because the parliamentarians are close to the people.

“I believe that this is one set of resolutions that the Executive must find a way of quickly implementing. These are not frivolous or imaginary resolutions. These are resolutions that have come from experience on ground.

“I think that this is one thing that will gladden the heart of Nigerians once we start implementing them.

“I also believe that the national assembly has a lot of responsibility and weight on this and other issues, and that is to say this is supposed to be a turning point.

“I use the word turning point very purposefully, that barbaric killing and slaughter of people in Borno, let’s make it the turning point in the fight against insurgency and insecurity in Nigeria. I believe that government as a whole should see it that way.

“Enough of any excuses, people who have little or nothing to add should be shown the way out. People with the capacity and wherewithal, but probably lack the resources, we will make the resources available to them.

“At the end of the day, we are responsible to the citizens, and the first responsibility is to secure their lives,” Lawan said.

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