The Senate Wednesday raised the alarm over increasing level of violence across the country, saying government needs to take urgent steps to address the menace.
The upper legislative chamber also resolved to set aside N10 billion in the 2019 budget as intervention fund for tackling the problem of insecurity in Zamfara State and the attendant humanitarian crisis.
But despite the measures being put in place to curb the killings, bandits have again attacked and killed no fewer than 23 people and set ablaze many houses, shops and vehicles in Sabuwa Local Government Area (LGA) and Garin-Magaji village of Batsari LGA of Katsina State, leaving hundreds of residents homeless.
However, the acting Inspector General Police (IG), Mr. Muhammed Abubakar Adamu, Wednesday paid an on-the-spot assessment visit to the state and vowed to fish out the perpetrators of the heinous crime in the state and other states bedeviled with banditry.
Setting aside the intervention fund Wednesday, the Senate urged the federal government to set up an ad-hoc committee to be known as Presidential Initiative on Zamfara with a 10-year lifespan for co-ordination of programmes aimed at addressing humanitarian crisis in the state .
These resolution by the Senate was sequel to a motion sponsored by Senator Kabiru Marafa (Zamfara Central).
Marafa, who came via Orders 42 and 52 of the Senate standing rules to move the motion, said the problem of insecurity in Zamfara State, is deteriorating on weekly or even daily basis, which calls for urgent national action and legislative intervention.
According to him, heinous activities of different categories of mindless criminals in the state like armed bandits, cattle rustlers, kidnappers and others are creating serious humanitarian crisis in the state that must be addressed very urgently.
He said: "Since 2011, as a result of the activities of criminals in the state, roughly estimated 11,000 males have been killed, who left behind average of 22,000 widows, and by extension 44,000 orphans. These figures are just by conservative estimates because the figures are far, far higher.
"The bandits, especially heavily armed kidnappers, operate with little or no resistance in Gusau , the capital of the state, making less than 75 per cent of people in Zamfara not to be sleeping in their houses. The situation has nothing to do with politics because my own blood sister was brutally murdered in her matrimonial home in February this year and even two of my cousins outside the state capital few weeks back."
Contributing to the debate, Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, commended Marafa for always bringing the deteriorating security situation in the state to the front burner of discourse in the Senate.
According to him, "The primary purpose of government as clearly stated in Section (1b) of the 1999 Constitution as amended is all about security and welfare of citizens. Reiterating his clamour for creation of state police, Ekweremadu declared that any government that cannot make provision for this has no business in governance.
He said: "For government to tackle the security problem headlong, the abnormality of Nigeria being the only federation with centralised Police, must be addressed.
"It has been suggested and said in this hallowed chamber that long lasting solutions to myriads of insecurity challenges in the land is creation of state police. The earlier we embrace it, the better for the country."
On his part, Senate Chief Whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye (Osun Central), said the problem of the country is the constitution itself, which by its provisions, puts on the ground, an over centralised federation or better put, unitary system as against federal system of government.
According to him, as long as the problematic constitution is not amended by way of removing policing from exclusive list to concurrent list to pave the way for state police, criminality at local levels will continue unabated.
"How on earth would a supposed federation have 68 items on its exclusive list and just 12 ambiguous and nebulous items on its concurrent list? Provisions of this constitution make mockery of Nigeria as a federation and the earlier it is addressed, the better because every crime is local and solution to it is local," he said.
Other contributors, including the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North); Deputy Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na'Allah (Kebbi South); Senator Shehu Sani (Kaduna Central); Senator Mohammed Hassan (Yobe South) and Senator Emmanuel Bwacha (Taraba South) condemned the spate of insecurity in the land.
Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, in his remarks, emphasised the need for policing to be localised in fighting all manner of crimes at the local levels.
He said: "From the contributions we have had, I think it is key that we begin to look at the problem and look for long-term solutions. More importantly is that we must go back to what a lot of us had been advocating here that there is need for us to have state or community police.
"It is the way forward. Otherwise, we will continue to run into these problems. On the area of oversight, there is a lot also that we need to do to ensure that we hold the security agencies accountable. And we need to move very fast in this area."
Again, Bandits Kill 23 in Fresh Attacks on Katsina Communities
Despite the government's renewed efforts to tackle insecurity in the country, bandits have again attacked and killed no fewer than 23 people and set ablaze many houses, shops and vehicles in Sabuwa LGA and Garin-Magaji village of Batsari LGA of Katsina State, leaving hundreds of residents homeless.
The fresh onslaught on Sabuwa, according to a credible source in the local government was launched about 4.a.m. on Tuesday by the bandits, allegedly dressed in military uniform and armed with AK47 rifles and machetes, shooting sporadically.
The source said: "The attackers stormed Sabuwa and they were shooting indiscriminately and everybody started running into the bush. They killed 18 people and injured few others. Some of the bandits were wearing military uniforms. I saw them from where I was hiding."
He said the police arrived at the scene after the bandits had run into the bush, adding: "Instead of pursuing the bandits who ran into the bush, they just turned back."
Confirming the Garin-Magaji attack to THISDAY Wednesday, the Caretaker Committee Chairman of Batsari LGA, Mr. Mannir Mu'azu, said the bandits killed five persons, injured 10 and set ablaze numerous houses and vehicles belonging to residents, adding that those who survived the attacks scampered for safety.
"Yesterday another tragedy happened in Batsari local government. Bandits numbering about 10 attacked Garin-Magaji in the night and killed five persons. They also set ablaze many houses, shops and burnt many vehicles in the village," he said.
The police in the state confirmed the attack in Sabuwa LGA and said 10 people were killed during the invasion.
The Katsina State Police Command through its spokesperson, SP Gambo Isah, said only 10 persons were feared dead and their corpses were recovered, adding that six of the corpses were identified to be members of the civilian JTF, while the remaining four were yet to be identified as of press time.
As IG Vows to Bring Perpetrators to Book
Meanwhile, the acting Inspector General Police (IG), Mr. Muhammed Abubakar Adamu, paid an on-the-spot assessment visit to Katsina State yesterday and vowed to fish out the perpetrators of the heinous crime in the state and other states bedeviled with banditry.
Adamu, while in audience with the state Deputy Governor, Mr. Mannir Yakubu, said he was in the state to ascertain the security challenges confronting the state, affirming that President Muhammadu Buhari had given instruction to clear the bandits in the affected states.
He said: "We felt it is important that we visit you to look into the security challenges in the North-west in general and Katsina State in particular. The activities of bandits are a source of concern for Mr. President and he has given us instructions to make sure that we clear these bandits and kidnappers through whatever means.
"For us to be able to do the job perfectly, we needed the cooperation of the people of Katsina State. By this, I mean the law enforcement agencies will not be able to do it alone. We know that the bandits have their camps somewhere in the forest. The strategy we are doing is to take this fight to bandits. We will identify their camps, destroy the camps, get them arrested and occupy their camps".
Responding, the state Deputy Governor, Yakubu, assured that the state government would continue to support the security agencies in the state to discharge their duties effectively.
During the visit, the IG visited Batsari, one of the eight frontline LGAs, where he charged his men and officers to rekindle their efforts in order to find a lasting solution to the predicament.
Scores of Terrorists, Bandits Killed in Air Strikes
In a related development, the military yesterday sustained its onslaught on terrorists and bandits in the North as fighter jets of the Nigerian Air Force struck hideouts and other locations in Sububu, Rugu and Kagara Forests in the North-west of the country.
Acting on credible intelligence, troops of Section 2, Operation Lafia Dole successfully repelled the attack launched by terrorist group, Boko Haram, on Damaturu, Yobe State capital, Tuesday evening, which forced residents to flee to safer places.
In an update on the war against the twin menace of terrorism and banditry afflicting the nation, the Nigerian Air Force said the waves of air strikes conducted by its fighter planes decimated scores of bandits, forcing some to flee towards neighbouring Niger Republic.
It said the air strikes followed the deployment of additional aircraft geared towards flushing out armed bandits from that part of the country. The air interdictions also destroyed eight camps of the bandits.
"The Air Task Force (ATF) for Operation Diran Mikiya has continued to record successes in its renewed air offensive against armed bandits in Zamfara State and its environs. The air strikes, which were intensified on with the deployment of additional aircraft, are aimed at flushing out the bandits from their hideouts in Sububu, Rugu and Kagara Forests, amongst others, whilst ensuring the protection of the lives and properties of citizens in the North-west of the country.
"On the first day of the intensive operation, the ATF conducted coordinated air raids against multiple identified armed bandits' hideouts at Doumborou, Sububu, West Malamawa, Baturia Pond and Rugu Forest, where several bandits were neutralised and their camps destroyed", the statement signed by NAF Spokesman, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said.
The update further showed that "the ATF conducted waves of attacks against several targets. The first wave struck three armed bandits locations within Sububu Forest as well as another camp in Kagara Forest.
Targets attacked in the second wave were notable armed bandits' hideouts at Kamarawa, Kunduma and Tsamare Hill, while the third wave focused on armed bandits hideouts in Doumborou.
"The ATF also provided close air support to surface forces of Sector 2 to enable them move into the attacked areas to mop-up the fleeing survivors and recover their weapons. In all, the ATF degraded eight camps and neutralised scores of armed bandits".
NAF maintained that "as a result of the air strikes, some of the bandits are fleeing towards the border between Nigeria and Niger Republic. Accordingly, the ATF is liaising with relevant authorities to ensure that the bandits are prevented from escaping through the Southern part of Niger Republic.
"The NAF, in consonance with surface forces and other relevant authorities, will sustain its efforts to end the scourge of banditry and other related threats to life and safety in the Northwest of our dear nation".
Meanwhile, troops killed many terrorists who launched attacks on Damaturu, Yobe State capital.
An army statement said troops of Section 2, Lafiya Dole ambushed the insurgents, decimated scores of them and recovered several weapons.
"The vigilant troops effectively ambushed the criminals few metres ahead of Maisandari community at the outskirts of the city of Damaturu. The terrorists were overwhelmed by the superior fire power of the gallant troops and the well coordinated air support, from the Air Component of Operation Lafiya Dole.
"Consequently, many terrorists met their waterloo, some were also wounded and the following items/equipments were recovered including two gun trucks, two anti aircraft guns", among other assault weapons", it said, noting that "troops have embarked on hot pursuit of the fleeing terrorists, mop up/combing of the general area is ongoing.
Apparently concerned over the rising wave of killings in the country, President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday night returned to Abuja, a day ahead of schedule.
Buhari Cuts Short Dubai Trip over Insecurity
Meanwhile, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported yesterday that the president, who was initially scheduled to return to Abuja from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates returned at about 1.30 p.m. Wednesday.
However, the presidential aircraft carrying the president, his aides and some members of his entourage landed at the presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja around 10.45 p.m. on Tuesday.
It was gathered that the president's decision to cut short his official engagements in Dubai might not be unconnected with security developments in Zamfara, Kaduna States as well as some other parts of the country.
President Buhari had on April 4 departed Abuja for Amman to honour an invitation by King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein of Jordan to participate in the World Economic Forum.
He delivered an address at the opening of the plenary alongside King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein and United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres.
The president, who on Sunday moved to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, participated in the ninth edition of the Annual Investment Meeting.
While in Dubai, President Buhari also held bilateral talks and met with different groups of investors at the sidelines of the Annual Investment Meeting.