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Boko Haram: Anger in Senate over massacre of 43 farmers in Borno

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  • Confirms 67 death toll
  • Says Service Chiefs must go

By Sanni Onogu, Abuja

There was palpable anger in Senate on Tuesday over the beheading of 67 rice farmers by Boko Haram insurgents in Borno State at the weekend.

The is even as the upper chamber reiterated its call for the sack of the nation’s service chiefs saying they have failed in their duty.

They accused the Federal Government of expressly violating Section 14 (1) of the Constitution which stipulates that security and welfare is the primary purpose of government.

These resolutions of the Senate followed its consideration of a motion titled: “Beheading of 67 Farmers in Borno by Boko Haram Insurgents: Need for Urgent Decisive Action” sponsored by Senator Kashim Shettima (Borno Central).

“If the President insists that the security chiefs are doing their work well, the logical implication is that the President himself as the Commander-in-Chief of the country has failed in his most rudimentary assignment of securing the nation,” the Senate said while adopting the prayers of the motion.

Senate also insisted that any government that cannot discharge the basic obligation of securing the lives of its citizens is not worthy of any iota of legitimacy.

“Protecting the lives and property of citizens is the primary obligation of government and any government that cannot discharge this basic obligation loses any iota of legitimacy,” it added.

The Senate rejected the figure of 43 earlier released as the number of beheaded farmers, saying it now a more authentic figure of 67 from residents of Kwashabe village in Zabarmari where the killing took place.

The Senate called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately initiate probe into widespread allegations of corruption and leakages within the security structure.

It said machinery must be put in place to ensure that all resources meant and deployed for security are actually spent on the needs on ground.

It also urged Buhari “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”

The Senate enjoined 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 Multi-national Joint Task Force and finding a lasting solution to the scourge of insurgency in the Lake Chad region.”

It asked 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.”

Some of the resolutions of the Senate are as follows: “Urge the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to immediately initiate a transitionary process of phasing out the current over-stayed security chiefs and replacing them with new ones with new ideas and solutions.

“Urge the President to take immediate steps to restructure, remode: and revamp the country’s entire security architecture and provide enough state-of-the-art weapons and equ ipraent to effectively combat the belligerent power of the insurgents.

“Urge the President to immediately initiate probe into widespread allegations of corruption and leakages within the security structure and put mechanisms in place to foster transpa ‘ency and ensure all resources meant and deployed for security are actually spent on the needs on ground.

“Impress on the Federal Government to aggressively explore multilateral and bilateral options of partnership with the neighbc uring nations of Chad, Niger and Cameroons toward: reviving and strengthening the Multinational Joint Task Fcrce and finding a lasting solution to the scourge of insurgency in the Lake Chad region.

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“Impress on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency, recruit it 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; and

“Direct NEMA and NEDC to provide succour and psychological support to the bereaved families.

“Impress on the Federal Government to provide 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 thei: concentration.

“Finally, as a way of proffering long term solution to Nigeria’s existential security challenges, the Federal and State Governments must adequately address all immediate and reimote causes of insecurity in the nation.

“This must include comprehensive packages on education, employment and other social vices.”

In his lead debate, the former Governor of Borno State lamented that over 40,000 people have been killed in the last 10 years by insurgents.

He added that over 2.5 million people had been displaced while thousands of security operatives have lost their lives.

According to him, about 2,800 attacks have been carried out in Borno State since January this year.

He said that insurgents are now in charge of governance in major rural areas, collect levies even as they kill and abduct citizens at will.

Shettima said: “Last weekend’s beheading happened about 20 kilometers away from Maiduguri.

“From the 1st of January to this day, we have had 2,800 attacks in Borno State. Boko Haram are virtually ruling all our rural areas.

“They kill and abduct people at will. They’re targeting farmers and this will create hunger in the North.

“Government officials keep saying that Boko Haram has been technically defeated. This claim is not true.

“The primary responsibility of Government is to protect the lives and property of the people. Any Government that has failed in doing this has lost the legitimacy of the people.

“If we allow the terrorists to take over the North East, that is capable of metamorphosing into something larger.”

In his contribution, Senator Ahmed Baba Kaita representing (Katsina North) said the actions of President Buhari have failed to produce any result so far.

He said while the President may have tried, but more needs to be done.

He argued that the primary responsibility of Government is the protection of lives and property.

He added that if urgent steps are not taken, insurgents may overrun the country. He said the military must be investigated and made to account for the huge funds they have been receiving from government to combat insurgency.

Kaita who represents Buhari’s senatorial District, said: “The time of truth has come. This situation is no longer acceptable to any Nigerian.

“We can’t be mourning our citizens in and out every day. We can’t accept the explanation from those who should do the right thing whenever there is an attack. If the statement from Garba Shehu is true, that’s very irresponsible.”

The lawmaker opined that, “We have to sit down with the military and assess the situation in the North East.

“Something is wrong here. If we allow this to go, we should be ready to have another attack soon. The President may be doing enough, but we are not seeing the results. More needs to be done.”

Former Senate Leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume, (Borno South) said soldiers fighting insurgency don’t have modern arms even as they are hardly provided with air support.

Ndume said people in Borno State now pay ransom to Boko Haram members before they’re allowed to go to their farms or move around in their villages.

Ndume said: “The issue of insecurity has been there. We have lamented. Committees have been set up.

“We have sent recommendations to the President. Two reports were not implemented. There are other recommendations we have made and nothing was done. We need to take a step further. Section 14 of the Constitution is clear.

“We are just talking about the security. You pay and people don’t have the arms. I can tell you that people fighting war are sharing ammunitions.

“They have no arms or proper kits. I have gone round. I have not seen a Nigerian soldier holding a new AK47.

“Last week, some people came to me in Abuja and they asked for money to help them pay their dues to Boko Haram terrorists before they can harvest their crops.

“If Government is serious, this terrorism can be stopped in six months. America engages mercenaries. Why can’t we get that? We will be failing in our responsibility if we fail to the right thing.”

In his contribution, former Governor of Kebbi State, Senator Adamu Aliero (Kebbi Central), wondered why Buhari refused to visit Borno after the attacks, opted to send a delegation instead.

Aliero said: “President Buhari should have gone to Borno State and not to send a delegation.

“We have lost lives in every part of the country. The story is the same. We have done what we should do.

“The Army is overstretched. We budget billions every year. We have failed in securing Nigeria.

We need to probe and know what’s happening. Service Chiefs have outlived their usefulness.”

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, in his remarks said excuses will no longer be tolerated.

He said the resolutions of the Senate must be implemented by the Executive.

Lawan said: “This is not the first or the second case of insecurity in the country. We will take additional steps and insist that out resolutions are implemented. These are recommendations the Executive must implement.

“This is one thing that will gladden the hearts of Nigerians when implemented. Enough of any excuses.

“People who have nothing to add should be showed the way out. We need people who can do the job. Nothing is more important to Nigerians than security.”

UPDATED: Senate okays Yakubu as INEC Chairman

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