30 April 2014

Nigeria: Senator Raises Alarm Over Boko Haram Base in Taraba

A Senator from Taraba State, Emmanuel Bwacha, on Wednesday raised a fresh alarm on "a strange helicopter" that "had been dropping strange armed personnel and equipment in the Dakar area of the state".

He said the development has heightened fears among the residents.

Bwacha spoke during Senate plenary under a Point of Order.

He, therefore, urged the Federal Government and the military authorities to move to the area immediately to flush out suspected "insurgents before they establish another Sambisa camp in Taraba State".

"I want to say that our attention has been drawn to suspicious movements and activities around Dakar in Taraba State and it is believed also that a helicopter is dropping materials and personnel around the place.

"We fear that this may be another Sambisa that is in the making in Taraba State. I recall that sometimes in December, our colleague, Senator Alkali Jajare, drew our attention to the fact that what is happening in Yobe and Borno states could spread to other states of the federation not only in the North East.

"What has happened in my constituency appears to be a confirmation of what our colleague had drawn our attention to," the Senator told his colleagues.

Bwacha recalled that members of the Taraba State House of Assembly have already passed a resolution, "which appears to have been an expression of lack of confidence of the capacity of the state to contain the crisis".

He said the state lawmakers had subsequently called on the Federal Government to take over the security of the state.

In a related development, Senate President, David Mark, on Wednesday raised a 22-member team to meet with President Goodluck Jonathan on the lingering Boko Haram insurgency in the country, especially the abduction of 234 female students of the Government Girls Secondary School (GGSS), Chibok in Borno State.

Senator representing Ekiti North, Olubunmi Adetunmbi, had on Tuesday during plenary suggested that a delegation of the Senate should meet with the President on the disturbing phenomenon.

The suggestion was unanimously adopted by the Senators in view of the local and international condemnation that has trailed the issue.

On resumption of plenary on Wednesday, Mark read out names of the 21 Senators, including those from the troubled Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states that he would lead to meet with Jonathan later in the night.

The Senators include Boluwaji Kunlere, Babafemi Ojudu, Zainab Kure, Alkali Jajere, James Manager, Helen Esuene, Chris Anyanwu, Ali Ndume, Ahmed Zannah, Mai'na Ma'aji Lawan, Nenadi Usman, Mohammed Magoro, and Emmanuel Bwacha.

Others are Ahmed Lawan, , Barnabas Gemade, Sola Adeyeye, Bindowo Jibrilla, Ehigie Uzamere, Bello Tukur, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, and Eyinnaya Abaribe.

"You will all recall that we agreed to a suggestion by one of the distinguished Senators during our debate on the motion on the abducted girls yesterday (Tuesday) that a delegation of the Senate should meet with Mr. President on the issue.

"I have called the President (Goodluck Jonathan) on phone and he said we should come by 10.00 p.m. today (Wednesday). I will suggest that those concerned should come to my residence so that we can go to the Villa in a bus or two," Mark said.

It was learnt that the meeting would among others enable the Executive and the Legislature exchange ideas on how best to get the girls out of the hands of their abductors.

It is also expected that Senators who are from the affected areas would seize the opportunity to open up to Jonathan on the real situation of things and possibly reveal intelligent information at their disposal at the meeting.

Former Lagos State Police Commissioner, Abubakar Tsav, also spoke on the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls, describing it as "an affront on the Nigerian government".

He blamed the abduction of the girls on negligence of duty on the part of security personnel.

Tsav made the observation while speaking to newsman in Makurdi on Wednesday.

He alleged that there must have been a conspiracy between the captors of the girls and security personnel at the nation's borders.

Tsav, who suspected that there was something fishy about the incident observed: "The whole affair is suspicious and funny. There is either collusion or gross negligence of duty bothering on inefficiency or both".

"One question which remains unanswered is; how did the terrorists succeed in abducting these girls and taking them outside Nigeria, given that Borno etc are under emergency rule," Tsav queried.

According to him, "Soldiers are supposed to cover the perimeter of all states placed under emergency rule, including the borders. Where were the Immigration officers and police border patrol units?

"The reported marriage of the abducted Chibok girls to their Boko Haram captors, if true, is like adding salt to injury. It is sad, stinking, atrocious and an affront against the government of Nigeria," Tsav emphasised.

He added: "If truly these girls are given out to forced marriage and are in neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Chad etc, we appeal to FG (Federal Government) to take up the matter with these countries. Delay may be harmful to the girls and their parents".

Some groups of women in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, also trooped out massively on Wednesday in a peaceful protest against the abduction saga.

Aged between 50 and 65 years, the women wept uncontrollably, as they marched through the city in rough dresses with placards, bearing inscriptions such as, 'Rescue our Girls Now', 'Enough of Abduction', 'No to Boko Haram', 'Federal Government what are you Doing?', 'We call for End to this Abduction Now' and so on.

The protesting women led by President of the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS), Princess Adetona, later moved to the headquarters of the Oyo State police Command, Eleyele, Ibadan, where they addressed the Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Indabawa.

National Women Leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Kema Chikwe, also called on authorities of the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, to release the names and pictures of the schoolgirls abducted by the Boko Haram insurgents.

Chikwe made the comment while conducting a PDP women's prayer session for the unity of the country in Abuja on Wednesday.

Chikwe said the issue of the kidnapped girls had raised a number of questions which had not been answered.

She said the abduction of the schoolgirls had left the hearts of the womenfolk not only broken but also bleeding.

Distressed women from Chibok town, joined by several others from across the country, defied heavy rainfall in Abuja on Wednesday to protest at the National Assembly over the fate of the abducted female students.

The women who wept inconsolably before Senate President, David Mark, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal and Emeka Ihedioha, respectively, appealed to the Federal Government to deploy all necessary military arsenal to rescue the innocent girls.

Former Minister of Education, Obi Ezekwesilli, who was among the speakers during the protest, urged the government to respond proactively by making sure that the girls were released from their captors safe in no time.

Ezekwesili regretted government's inability to secure the release of the girls two weeks after their abduction, saying Nigerian women have been on sleepless mood since the abduction.

She insisted that government must not fail the citizens in releasing all the girls immediately.

Addressing the bewildered women, Mark said the whole nation was in grief over the incidence and assured that government was doing everything possible to secure the safe release of all the girls.

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