Angered by the ceaseless and senseless killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen, some senators yesterday called for the declaration of state of emergency in Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa and other troubled states. This is as the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki lamented that the Federal Government and security agencies have failed the people over the killings.
The Senate also resolved to align with the House of Representatives to summon President Muhammadu Buhari to address a joint session of the National Assembly on the sustained killings in Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba, Plateau, Zamfara, Adamawa and other states of the federation. Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf (Taraba Central) said that the situation had reached a point where the Federal Government should declare a state of emergency in troubled states across the country, particularly the North- Central.
“We should assist the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in all these flash points where we have security challenges,” he said. Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn Na ‘Allah (Kebbi South) agreed with Senator Yusuf that the situation required a drastic action, but Saraki rejected the suggestion, saying that members should wait for the outcome of President Buhari’s meeting with the proposed joint session of the National Assembly. State of emergency is “a situation of national danger or disaster in which a government suspends normal constitutional procedures in order to regain control.”
The implication is that the President would be empowered to appoint an administrator to oversee the affairs of the state instead of the governor. Saraki in his remark during the consideration of a motion, “Continued killings in Benue State”, sponsored by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Navy, George Akume (APC, Benue) deeply expressed concerns that in spite of daily killings across the country, particularly in the North Central states, no security officer has been sanctioned for failure to stop the killings or apprehend the killers. Saraki, who appeared to be overwhelmed by the menacing security situation in the country, urged his colleagues to come up with ideas that could lead to doing things differently in order to tackle the frightening security situation in the country.
The President of the Senate warned that the Tuesday killing of two Catholic priests and 17 worshippers in Benue State had brought in a threatening dimension to the matter, saying that it could lead to serious crisis in the country. His words: “Distinguished colleagues, we have heard a lot of the contributions.
Well, my concern is that apart from the last two speakers, we are beginning to see suggestions on the way forward. Last time it was Senator Gemade who brought a motion here on herdsmen and farmers; now we are talking about herdsmen and religious leaders; and we all know that the dimension that it is taking can lead to a serious crisis in this country. It means that we need drastic action. We must say no, these daily killings must stop. “We can’t continue to say we are leaders; this is failure.
There is no doubt about it. We can’t; so we must say what needs to be done.We have made ourselves available as you people all rightly observed, we have done the security summit, but the question is what do we do differently because it is amazing, not even a constable or an officer has been sanctioned for these killings. It can’t continue like this.” The senators, in their contributions, expressed serious pains and frustration over the killings in the country, particularly with the religious dimension the Tuesday killings in Benue added to it, urging President Buhari to, as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, drastically prove that he was truly concerned about the situation.
The lawmakers further poured outrage on the pattern of the attacks and the concomitant heavy casualties, especially as the attackers have been perpetrating the crimes and escaping without being arrested, let alone being prosecuted.
Akume’s motion, which opened the floodgate of lamentations on Tuesday’s killing of two Catholic priests and 17 parishioners at St. Ignatius Catholic Church, Ukpor- Mbalom, in Gwer West Local Government Area of Benue State, provoked the legislators to recall that Nigeria had never witnessed this magnitude of death in the history of her existence as an independent nation. Akume, who represents Benue North West Senatorial District, was particularly alarmed that the killings took place in a church, which is generally regarded as a sacred place of worship.The senator, who said a place of worship should be sacrosanct, noted that the attacks were incessant and taking place almost every week in different communities in Benue State, noting that they are being carried out by men with sinister motives. Akume observed with dismay, the continued killings, maiming and wanton destruction of lives and property across the country, particularly in many farming communities in Benue State.
He said: “These killings have continued unabated since January 2018. On the morning of Tuesday, April 24, some Christian faithful were gathered at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Ayar town in Gwer East local government area for their routine morning mass.
“They were ambushed by armed gunmen who opened fire indiscriminately on the worshipers, resulting in the deaths of two reverend fathers, namely Rev. Fr. Joseph Gor, Rev. Fr. Felix Tyolaha, a catechist, John Ibor and 17 others.”
Also, Senator Gbolahan Dada (Ogun West) lamented that the unprovoked attacks and killings in the country had claimed the lives of over 2,000 persons in the last six months alone. “The entire Iraqi war by American forces recorded about 4000 casualties and that was a serious war that lasted for about a year.
But in this country, we hear the pain and agony of people across the land every day.
“The executive and the Senate have a responsibility to protect lives and property of these helpless people that are being killed every day,” Dada said.
Contributing, Senator Adamu Aliero (APCKebbi) decried the wanton killings, saying there was need for concerted efforts by relevant stakeholders to nip the problem in the bud. According to him, if care is not taken, it will lead to religious crisis in the country.
“I do not think those perpetrating the crime have a religion. They can attack Muslims and Christians, so we should treat them as criminals.” Senator Sam Anyanwu (PDP-Imo) said if not nipped in the bud, the continuous killings in the country would also lead to food scarcity.
“If nothing is done urgently, there will be food scarcity because the people that are attacked are predominantly farmers. We must fight this as a country.
“The service chiefs should be engaged to know what is happening. We should also seek foreign aid. I think some people are gaining from this development,” he said.