By our Correspondents |
Nigerians have thrown their weight of support behind Senate’s resolution calling on President Muhammadu Buahri to declare a state of emergency on the menace of insecurity bedeviling the country.
They insisted that the government must suspend normal constitutional procedures in order to regain control of the situation.
The Senate had in the wake of the kidnap of students at Government Science College Kagara in Niger State yesterday called on President Buhari to as a matter of urgency declare a state of emergency on insecurity.
This is just as the upper legislative chamber condemned in strong terms the abduction of the students and teachers of school by armed bandits.
The upper chamber also urged the president to consider and implement the recommendations of the Senate ad hoc committee on Nigeria’s Security Challenges dated March 17, 2020 and Senate resolutions therein as a holistic response to the mounting security challenges across the country.
The Senate resolutions followed the consideration of a motion titled “Abduction of Students and Teachers of Government Science School Kagara: Need for Urgent Action” moved by Senator Mohammed Sani Musa (APC, Niger East) at plenary.
Earlier, Senator Musa came under Order 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Rules to note with sadness and great concern the recent terrorist attack and abduction of students at the Kagara School by gunmen in the early hours of Wednesday.
He noted in the motion: “The bandits were dressed in military uniforms when they attacked the boarding school, overpowered the security guards before whisking away the students, and killing some which numbers are to yet to be confirmed
“Aware that the exact number of students kidnapped is not yet known as headcount was being conducted in the school as we speak to ascertain the actual number of missing students; but the school has a population of over 1000 students
“Further aware that the security agencies were able to detect the coordinates of the area the students were taken to, and have started tracing the bandits’ movement while security aircraft have been seen hovering in the air to track the location of the students;
“Aware that section 14 (2) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended stipulates that the welfare and security of citizens shall be the primary responsibility of government; thus government at all levels owes the people the duty to provide adequate security.”
Senate president, Ahmad Lawan, in his remarks, underscored the need for the military and security agencies to work in collaboration with the various state governments towards securing schools situated in the northern part of Nigeria where abduction remains predominant.
He added that inadequate personnel and funding were crippling security agencies.
But reacting to the development, a security analyst and trainer, Mr Banjo Daniel, expressed support for the Senate resolution even as he advocated for a stop of allowances of elected officials and should use the same resources to recall military reserves.
Daniel, who is a retired Major in the Nigerian Army, said it was time to call in military reserves for a one-week training and deployment into the various areas of operations, forests and border towns.
A peace and security expert, Dr Jimoh Ahmed Ayinla, who also declared support for the call on President Buhari to declare a state of emergency on insecurity in the country, said the present insecurity problems across Nigeria require drastic measures to redress.
On its part, South-South based Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) said it was in support of the Senate decision.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP in Port Harcourt, CLO’s zonal chairman, Chinedu Karl Uchegbu, said the call became necessary following recent security issues in the country.
Uchegbu said, “We fully support the call by the Senate. The recent abduction of students in Niger State and other recent events across the country has brought in bold belief that the need for the Presidency to tackle the issue of insecurity in the country.”
Throwing his weight behind the Senate, a security expert in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, Comrade Joe Onukaogu, commended the Red Chamber of the National Assembly for the “bold step to rid the country of the menace.”
Similarly, Chief Uchendu Onyebuchi, who served in the armed forces for 34 years, said, “The way out of this is for him to come out clearly to apportioned blame on the culprits where necessary without minding whose ox is gored. In addition to this, he should allow merit to reign supreme in every strata of society.”
Also, a security expert, Dr. Austin Okoro, called on the federal government to seek the assistance of experts and international communities in tackling the security challenges confronting the nation.
Also reacting to the call by the Senate, a security expert and retired CSP of Police, Ikechukwu Ezeani, said the call was coming at the right time since the issues of banditry and kidnapping have become the order of the day.
Another security expert, Sule Mohammed, said declaration of state of emergency on security was long overdue because gory crimes have been going on unchecked for some time now.
PMB Orders Rescue Of Abducted Niger Students, Others
Meanwhile, President Buhari has ordered the rescue of the abducted students of Government Science School Kagara, Niger State and their teachers.
In a statement by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, the president directed the military and the Police to ensure immediate and safe return of all the captives.
He added that the president had also dispatched to Minna, Niger State capital, a team of security chiefs to coordinate the rescue operation and meet with state officials, community leaders, as well as parents and staff of the school.
Sani-Bello Rules Out Ransom, Shuts Down Boarding Schools
Reacting to the development, Niger State governor, Abubakar Sani-Bello, said his government would not pay ransom for the release of the students.
He confirmed that one student Benjamin Doma was killed and 42 persons abducted in the attack on the school.
Governor Sani-Bello also met with President Buhari yesterday at the presidential villa to brief the president on the abduction of students in Government Science College Kagara.
The governor however did not speak with state house correspondents after the meeting.
Those abducted were 27 students and three teachers, including 12 members of their families.
LEADERSHIP reports that the bandits invaded the school at about 3am yesterday dressing like students to gain entrance.
They bandits who were armed with AK-47 picked all the students in Barde Hostel and three teachers and members of their families in the adjoining staff quarters.
The invasion of the school, which has 650 student population, came barely three days after bandits abducted some passengers along Zungeru – Yakila road in the same Rafi local government area.
The federal government yesterday sent high-powered delegation to the state yesterday, assuring that measures were already in place to ensure the safe release of the abducted students, some staff and members of their families.
The minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this when he led the delegation to the state capital for a first-hand information on the incident.
Also, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen Babagana Monguno (rtd), said both kinetic and non-kinetic approach would be used to secure the release of the students and others as there would be a confluence of efforts both political as well as military to resolve the issue.
Also speaking, the Inspector-general of Police, Mohammed Adamu, said a lot of strategies had been put in place to deal with the situation, adding that the rate of banditry and kidnappings in the country has remained an issue of concern to the Federal Government.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd), expressed confidence that the kidnapped school children will be rescued soonest, that the government will adopt the same strategy it used to rescue the school children earlier kidnapped in Katsina State in December last year.
Magashi, who made this known while speaking with journalists on the sideline of the screening of Service Chiefs by the House of Representatives yesterday in Abuja, said the service chiefs will swing into action immediately they are through with the screening exercise by the lawmakers and track down the kidnappers with a view to rescuing the children.
Zamfara Gov, NASS Members Call For Dialogue, Amnesty For Bandits
Meanwhile, Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle, has called on his colleagues to negotiate and dialogue with bandits to tame the insecurity in the country.
He disclosed this to State House correspondents after meeting with President Buhari at the presidential villa Abuja yesterday.
According to the governor, negotiation with bandits has helped bring peace and calm to Zamfara State.
Also, members of the National Assembly representing Zamfara State have advocated the offer of amnesty to the repentant bandits in the North-west part of the country as enjoyed by the agitators in the Niger Delta region.
The lawmakers led by the Senate deputy chief whip, Senator Sahabi Ya’u, at a briefing in Abuja yesterday said the offer became necessary in order to enjoy the contributions of the repentant bandits to their various communities.
The Zamfara National Assembly Caucus also praised the existing peace initiative in Zamfara State as being championed by Governor Matawalle, even as it called on the federal and state governments to emulate the same in order to engender peace in all parts of the country.
Stop Rewarding Criminals, Atiku Advises
But a former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, yesterday urged the federal government to stop rewarding criminality or it will increase.
Atiku in a statement said this while condemning the abduction of students and staff of Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State.
According to him, the reported death of one of the students in the process of escape is heartbreaking, adding that the thoughts of my family and I are with the parents and the authorities of the institution.
He said, “The spate of insecurity in Nigeria is now beyond alarming. It has gotten to crisis levels, especially when it involves children and other minors.
“Now is not the time for fingers to point in blame. Our nation needs solutions. And we have now seen that paying ransoms, and allowing criminals to profit from their criminality is not a solution,” the former VP added.