IRKED by an upsurge in attacks and killings in some parts of the country, the Senate on Thursday, March 20, mandated its committees on security and intelligence, defence and army, police affairs as well as interior to investigate the incidents. In a motion sponsored by Barnabas Gemade, former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party and a serving senator representing Benue North East, and five others, the Senate noted with dismay how human lives had become increasingly very cheap with impunity being the norm.
The Senate thus, expressed concern that the situation was gradually degenerating to a point of civil war. It said: “Anxiety caused by incidences of serial night killings and daylight mass attacks bordering on war crimes is approaching a panic loss of confidence in the federal security regime. “The pattern of federalized policing under a unitary command may have made sense under military regimes in the past, but it is hardly the best in the prevailing situation of insecurity with the increasing volume of grassroots crimes and attacks on the nation’s defenceless rural communities.” The senators similarly expressed worry over the likelihood of famine if drastic steps were not taken to end the attacks and return the displaced persons to their homes so that they could continue with their farming.
In his contribution, Ike Ekweremadu, deputy president of the Senate, said the establishment of a state police structure would provide lasting solution to the problem of violence and insecurity across the country. He said that so long as Nigeria continued to centralise policing, it would be difficult to ensure effective security. “We run a federal system of government and it is completely unacceptable in a federal system for us to have a centralised police. Policemen are not magicians. There is no way a policeman can stay in one kilometre and know when a crime is being committed in another kilometre. We must be able to provide sufficient police personnel that should be, at least, one policeman per hundred metres. And this can only be achieved if we decentralise our police, ensure that we have state police and possibly, local council police that are well co-ordinated and regulated. We had problem in the past in this area because they were not well regulated and co-ordinated.”
The Senate committees were mandated to jointly embark on a fact-finding mission in Benue, Plateau, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states where violence and killings have persisted. They were given two weeks to present their reports.
Corruption in Nigeria is Exaggerated – Jonathan
PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan believes that the issue of corruption in Nigeria is being blown out of proportion thereby affecting the image of the country negatively. Speaking during a state visit to Windhoek, Namibia, on Thursday, March 20, Jonathan said that “corruption is everywhere but it is over-celebrated in the country to the extent that the nation and its people are stigmatised.”
The president stressed that while his administration would not condone the menace, using big stick would not be a solution to end corruption. He said in fighting corruption, government would continue to strengthen all the relevant institutions.
The president pointed out that with the promulgation of decrees and laws stipulating capital punishment for armed robbery, the menace had not stopped. He therefore, called on every Nigerian to resolve to do the right thing and support the government in its efforts at building a new Nigeria. He assured that if all hands were on deck and Nigerians cooperated with the government, the country would be completely transformed in the next 10 years. “The green passport should be a symbol of honour, respect and dignity, not humiliation,” he said.
Atiku Against Presence of Military at Polling Stations
ATIKU Abubakar, former vice-president, wants the federal government to reconsider the policy of deploying soldiers to supervise elections in the country. Atiku said the measure would ensure the neutrality of the military in the election process and avoid exposing it to undue politicisation.
In a statement issued by his media office in Abuja, on Wednesday, March 20, the former vice-president said with the unprecedented security challenges brought about by terrorism, the nation’s military should be allowed to concentrate on its immediate tasks and challenges so as not to lose focus. He said that in the absence of extraordinary emergency situations, there should be reason or justification for dragging soldiers into politics. “The attention of the military should not be diverted to politics when terrorists are posing the greatest threat to our national security,” Atiku said. Besides, he said the frequent deployment of soldiers to supervise the conduct of elections in the country could affect its credibility.
He said the militarisation of Bayelsa State prior to the last governorship election in the country had left a blemish that would be difficult to erase from the annals of the country’s young democracy. The former vice-president said that gun-wielding soldiers at polling stations would easily obscure the new democratic order in the country. Instead, he advised the government to adequately equip and motivate police very well so that they could maintain law and order at polling stations during elections.
Sambisa Forest, The New Battle Ground
THE Nigerian military has taken the battle against the Boko Haram insurgents to the sect’s base in the Sambisa forest in Borno State. Chris Olukolade, a major-general and director of defence information, who disclosed this, also said that the battle would soon be over because the insurgents were “on the run.” Speaking in an interview in Maiduguri, after a visit to the troops in company of Kenneth Minimah, a lieutenant-general and chief of Army Staff as well as Adesola Amosu, air marshal and chief of Air Staff, on Thursday, March 20, Olukolade said: “The military is operating in the Sambisa forest, in hills and other forests around. The idea is to make sure that the insurgents do not have a camp where they can organise their crime like before. Unlike some months back, the insurgents are now on the run.’’
The defence spokesman said the attempted attack on Giwa Barracks, Maiduguri, by the insurgents was a sign of weakness. “You will observe that they have stopped soft spot attacks for some time now. Most of the attacks now are daring, like the attempted barrack attacks, because they know that their time was up,” he said. According to him, the purpose of the visit to the operation of troops on the ground was to assess the situation, adding that “terrorism is like armed robbery, prostitution and other crimes, which have been on for a long time. These cannot be wiped out completely in the society, but you can bring them down to the lowest level where they cannot affect social and economic life. Our aim is to reduce terrorism to the lowest level where it will not be able to disrupt social and economic lives of the people.”
— Mar. 31, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT