Kauthar Anumba-Khaleel, Abuja
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara has warned that there is no safe haven for those perpetrating series of killings across the country even as he called on Nigerians leaders to accept responsibility and stop buck passing.
The speaker who said this yesterday while delivering his opening address at the resumption of plenary added that government should protect all Nigerians and not allow a particular group to foist violence on others and divide the nation.
“We are all painfully aware of the wave of murders of innocent Nigerians that has been sweeping through the nation. From the senseless killings in Rivers State, to the killing rampages in Benue, Taraba, Kaduna, Zamfara, Adamawa, Edo and other states; our dear country is now being painted red with the blood of the innocents on account of unremitting bedlam callously promoted by cold hearted merchants of death.
“Our job as leaders is to hold our people together and ensure that no one or group is allowed to foist the reign of tragedy and group polarisation on our dear nation.
“Those who pride themselves in violence must be reminded of the self-defeating nature of violence: the fact that violence only begets violence and that true victory has never been won by violence”.
Speaking further, Dogara said, “At these moments of intense outpouring of grief across the nation, it is important that we shun buck passing and accept responsibility for these wanton killings without which we will never find a solution to this evil. We cannot afford to fold our hands and pretend that all is well with our country.
“We cannot throw up our hands in defeat. We have a responsibility to all Nigerians regardless of creed or ethnicity in line with the constitutionally stated primary purpose of the government we serve in, which is securing the welfare including the lives and property of our people.
“This we must do by ensuring that every law abiding Nigerian is protected wherever he chooses to live in the country and everyone who is up in arms against our citizens is quickly brought to justice wherever they are in the country. That there are no sanctuaries anywhere in the country for killers and other hardened criminals who feed on the blood of our people”.
Dogara called on President Muhammadu Buhari to apply maximum sanctions on public officers who fail in the performance of their duties and expressed optimism with the machinery put in place by the federal government to end herdsmen killings.
“Only two days ago, Mr President, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, briefed the President of the Senate and I on measures being taken to contain killer herdsmen and other criminals who kill with impunity across national flash points. I won’t speak to the measures because of the sensitivity of security issues and in order not to jeopardise ongoing operations. However, I must say that I’m totally satisfied that if Mr. President’s plan is carried out to the letter, we will sooner than later begin to see the desired fruits”.
Meanwhile, the House has summoned the Minister of Interior, the Service Chiefs, the Inspector-General of Police as well as the Director-General of the Directorate of State Service (DSS) to appear before it and explain the measures being put in place to forestall further attacks and loss of lives across the country.
The decision follows the adoption of a motion on the need for the federal government to declare a state of emergency on security over the spate of deadly attacks in the country by suspected herdsmen jointly sponsored by Hon Babatunde Kolawole and Hon Dickson Tarkighir.
Leading debate on the motion, Kolawole noted the deadly and sustained attacks across the country from the beginning of the year by suspected herdsmen, particularly in Benue State, supposedly over some missing cows which led to the death of over 80 people.
He also bemoaned the attacks on worshippers in Rivers State which left about 17 persons dead; report that 37 people were killed in a violent clash between farmers and herdsmen in Kajuru local government area of Kaduna State.
He said the motion takes, “Cognizant that those orgies of bloodletting were carried out in violation of section 33 (1) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 which guarantees right to life to every citizen which shall not be deprived of any citizen save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty;
“Concerned that incessant attacks on farmers and farming communities will ultimately result in food shortages, artificial scarcity and hampering of the drive of the federal government to diversify the nation’s economy through agriculture.”
Co-sponsor of the motion, Tarkighir while lamenting the attacks, expressed worry that displaced persons camped in several IDPs camps are in sorry state of lack without the due support from government relief agencies like the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA while the military is yet to draw any security programme to stop the aggressors from attacking innocent citizens.
In his contribution, Hon. Wale Raji regretted that clashes between farmers and herdsmen abound two years after the House passed a resolution seeking establishment of cattle-breeding settlements across the states adding that if action was taken then, lives will not be lost. He also stated that security agencies especially the Nigeria police had failed in its duties of protecting the lives of citizens.
On his part, Hon. John Dyegh maintained that the attacks had nothing to do with tribal intolerance as people of Benue have come up with what they believe is solution to the attack.
“It is wrong for anyone to imply that there’s tribal undertone. We are not saying we don’t want you in Benue. No one is barring grazing in Benue, all we are saying land has been provided, come pay and ranch your cows.
“There is need for us to look at the issue holistically and not just from one premise. You sit in your house and people come and destroy your farm, rape your wives and daughters and when you shout, you get killed”.