18 April 2018

Nigeria: Senate Wants Service Chiefs Sacked As Herdsmen Kill 78

Photo: This Day
Farmer vs Herdsman

Angered by the seemingly intractable killings across the country, senators yesterday charged President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately dismiss the heads of security agencies as well as the service chiefs.

At a marathon debate on the renewed killings in Nasarawa State by herdsmen and criminal militia groups, the lawmakers submitted that because Nigerians were increasingly becoming disappointed and frustrated over government's failings and inactions on insecurity, democracy has become endangered.

The Senate, after adopting a motion by Suleiman Adokwe (PDP, Nasarawa State), also asked Buhari to seek immediate help from the international community in curbing security problems in Nigeria.

Solomon Adeola Olamilekan (APC, Lagos State) stressed the need to inject fresh ideas into how the security problems in the country could be remedied.

He noted that the only way to address the security challenges was to remove the incumbent service chiefs to give room for those with fresh ideas.

"The nation should do away with unproductive tenure elongation in areas where fresh ideas are needed. We know the way the military organisation operates. Those with fresh ideas dare not come out against their superiors or else they risk premature retirement from service. So the current service chiefs should go to allow officers with fresh ideas address our alarming security issues," he said.

Jeremiah Useni (PDP, Plateau State), identified constant clashes among security agencies as part of the security problems. He said the heads of such agencies should be removed to pave the way for a more harmonious relationship among security agencies.

Defending his motion earlier, Adokwe said: "Throughout the weekend and up to the moment that I am speaking, herdsmen have unleashed terror and mayhem on the people of my senatorial district. Many of them have died, numerous wounded and hundreds of thousands are now internally displaced. The victims are largely the Tiv speaking ethnic nationalities, 32 of them have reportedly been killed and we are still counting.

"The real tragedy is not in the well coordinated and simultaneous carnage across Awe, Obi, Keana and Doma local government areas, but in the fact that for four days running, this mayhem has continued unhindered, unchecked, unstopped by any arm of the law and security enforcement agency."

He lamented that "right under the noses of the armed forces and the police, this killing is sustained unabated by sheer negligence or refusal to act by the security agencies. It is a sad commentary."

Adokwe expressed shock that despite the existence of an army base close to where the carnage was being perpetrated, there was no single shot fired by the army.

"It baffles me and beats my imagination that a whole law enforcement agency of the Nigerian state will stand by and witness Nigerians being killed endlessly. Nobody can explain this.

"It is no wonder that eminent Nigerians have urged the citizens to defend themselves. I am very emotional on this matter and I am not one given to emotion very easily. But what I have gone through this weekend was very horrifying; it is very distressing and sad. It is as if we were in a lawless society where life is brutish, where there is absence of state powers. We call on the Federal Government to stop this carnage," he said.

Barnabas Gemade (APC, Benue State) said Nigeria was becoming a state without control, one that was experiencing anarchy and ethnic cleansing.

"It is a shame that a sitting government could watch criminality go to the level that we have seen it today and rather than rise up and take very decisive steps against it, we embark on deniability and simply shield this evil by just explaining with flimsy excuses that these are communal clashes in those communities.

"I don't understand why responsible people elected to control the governments of Nigeria will simply turn away from the reality of facing this matter squarely. The inspector-general of police will fly by helicopter to a town, land in the market square and be asking people whether there is militia in the town or not, and nobody seems to call anybody to order. This is very sad.

"The advice of some nationalists to the people to find ways of protecting themselves may not be out of order because a government that cannot protect people and a military whose presence in any particular place means the killing of certain ethnic nationalities they do not believe in is a very sad development," he said.

Ruling on the motion, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said: "If citizens are being killed, we owe the responsibility as a parliament to give it the desired attention. And we will never stop talking about these killings. Unless it stops, we will never be tired of speaking about it.

"I ask myself: assuming this is happening in America, in the United Kingdom or France, will it take all this time to be resolved? As we know, not even in South Africa. But it appears that we are taking too many things for granted. The time has come for us to seek help from other countries as some of us have suggested here. We should not be ashamed to ask for help.

"We cannot be asking people to come to Nigeria and invest their monies here. They will not! Rather, let us ask them to come and help us to solve our security problem. If we solve our security problem, they will come here, with nobody asking them to come. I think the first thing to do is to resolve the issue, and it is something we have to do fast."

It was learnt yesterday that the death toll had hit 78 in the coordinated attacks on Tiv villagers at different locations across the southern senatorial district of Nasarawa State by the suspected killer herdsmen.

The attacks were carried out simultaneously on the Tiv villages in Awe, Keana and Obi and Doma local government areas.

At the time of filing this report, over 10, 000 Tiv villagers were said to have been trapped along the Agwatashi-Jangwa road axis in Obi Local Government shortly after the marauding herdsmen sacked over 200 villages.

When The Guardian visited the affected areas, thousands of fleeing Tiv villagers were stranded in the streets of Lafia, the state capital, apart from others who were taking refuge in different Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps at Agwatashi, Aloshi, Awe, Adudu, Obi, Keana, Doma and Agyaragu, among other locations.

Confirming the development to newsmen in Lafia, President of Tiv Youth Organisation, Nasarawa State chapter, Peter Ahemba, said the entire Tiv villages in the southern part of the state had been sacked, and the villages were being occupied by the invaders.

He confirmed the new casualty figures in an interview with newsmen in Lafia yesterday.

He said the additional bodies were recovered from Uluji, Ayaakeke, Uvirkaa and Usula, among others villages. "Most of the victims are those trapped in villages along Agwatashi-Jangwa road in Obi Local Government.

"We are still searching for many of our people missing since the attacks occurred. Bodies of those killed, especially at Kertyo, last Sunday and surrounding villages have not been recovered up till now that I speak with you."

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