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Herdsmen: Uproar in Senate over Buhari’s comments on herdsmen

The Senate plenary session was rancorous yesterday over the statement by President Muhammadu Buhari that the killer- herdsmen terrorizing parts of the country were trained by late Libyan leader, Muammar Gadaffi. Trouble started when Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia South) raised a point of order, drawing the attention of the Senate to what he described as the “unbecoming” statement of President Buhari in London on Wednesday. Dailies were awash with reports of President Buhari’s claim while having audience with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, in Abuja House in London, that the killerherdsmen committing mass murder across the country were trained and armed by late Muammar Gadaffi of Libya.

 

The President was reported to have stated that when Gadaffi was killed, the gunmen escaped with their arms to parts of West African countries, including Nigeria. However, Abaribe, who was infuriated by the presidential declaration linking Gadaffi to herdsmen attacks in the country, told the Senate that such statement was an indication that the nation’s number one citizen was not competent to lead the country. He wondered why President Buhari was still being indulged after obvious consistent signs of lack of capability and capacity to lead and protect the country from internal and external attacks. Abaribe said: “This chamber has discussed the killings in Nigeria.

 

I recall that on the matter of herdsmen and farmers’ clashes, two explanations were given by highly ranked security personnel. The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, said that these killings were as a result of laws being passed by states. “Secondly, the Defence Minister, Mansur Dan-Ali, said that these killings were as a result of the blockage of grazing routes. And we continued to look at all these explanations.

 

“Yesterday, in London, the Commander-in-Chief and President of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, said that these killings were as a result of the people who were trained by Muammar Gaddafi. “Mr. President was implying that these people who are doing the killings in Nigeria are invaders from outside of Nigeria. If so, it validates my point in this chamber that when a Commander-in-Chief says he cannot take care of invaders, why is he still a Commander-in-Chief? “Why do we still continue to indulge this president that goes around to tell everybody outside this country that he is totally incompetent? It is obvious…” However, some senators felt that Abaribe’s choice of words were uncomplimentary and not worth of application in addressing the country’s President.

 

This, accordingly, provoked intense murmuring among the lawmakers as some Senators made desperate efforts to shout Abaribe down and truncate his line of argument. But Abaribe, who appeared to be fearless and was not ready to be cowed by the voices of antagonism, stood his ground and insisted on having his way. Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, immediately raised a Point of Order to cut Abaribe short, citing Order 53 (7) on the need to avoid the use of offensive words in the Senate.

 

Also, Saraki asked Abaribe to be guided as an elder statesman, noting that it was obvious that Abaribe used certain words that were offensive and unacceptable to the Chamber. Consequently, he asked Abaribe if he had concluded his submissions as tempers continued to rise in the chamber, saying “we can make our points without using words that are offensive. Please be guided accordingly.”

 

Responding, Abaribe said: “I am very well guided by you, but there are words that there are no alternatives to. What I did was to interpret the words by Mr. President in London. If any word I used is misunderstood by anyone, I apologize. “What I am saying is simple. The heads of security in Nigeria made several explanations for the killings of our people. It shows that there is a disconnect.”

 

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