Issues of rising wave of insecurity in Nigeria came to fore on the floor of the Senate Wednesday eliciting strong condemnations from lawmakers.
At the session, lawmakers were told the crisis in Zamfara state had left in its wake 22,000 widows and 44,000 orphans since it broke out in 2011.
And to this end, the upper legislative chamber resolved to set aside N10billion in the 2019 budget as intervention fund for tackling the problem of insecurity and the resultant humanitarian crisis it had caused in the state.
For management of the fund, Senate asked the federal government to set up an ad-hoc committee to be known as Presidential Initiative on Zamfara with a 10-year lifespan for coordination of programmes aimed at addressing humanitarian crisis arising there from.
These were sequel to a motion sponsored to that effect by Senator Kabiru Marafa (APC Zamfara Central).
Marafa, who rose through orders 42 and 52 of the Senate standing rules to move the motion, said the problem of insecurity in Zamfara state, was deteriorating on weekly or even daily basis, a development he said called for urgent national action and legislative intervention from the parliament.
He said heinous activities of different categories of mindless criminals or killers in the state like armed bandits, cattle rustlers and kidnappers among others were creating serious humanitarian crisis in the state that must be addressed very urgently.
“Since 2011, as a result of the unabating activities of the criminals in the state, roughly estimated 11,000 males who left behind, average of 22,000 widows and by extension, 44,000 orphans have been killed. 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% 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,” he said.
First to contribute to the debate was Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, who commended Marafa for always bringing the deteriorating security situation in Zamfara to the front burner in the Senate .
“The primary purpose of government as clearly stated in Section 14 (1b) of the 1999 constitution as amended is all about security and welfare of citizens. Any government that cannot make provision for these has no business in governance.
“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,” he said.
Making similar submission, Senate Chief Whip Olusola Adeyeye ( APC Osun Central) said the nation’s problem was the constitution itself, which by its provisions, he said, puts on ground an over centralised federation or better put, unitary system as against federal system of government .
He said as long as the problematic constitution is not amended by way of removing policing from exclusive list to concurrent list to pave way for state police, criminality at local levels would 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 lawmakers like Senate Leader Ahmad Lawan (APC Yobe North), Deputy Leader Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC Kebbi South), Shehu Sani (PRP Kaduna Central), Mohammed Hassan (PDP Yobe South) and Emmanuel Bwacha (PDP Taraba South) condemned the spate of insecurity in the land in their various contributions.
In his remark, Senate President Bukola Saraki said there was 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.”
NAF pounds bandits’ strongholds
In a related development, 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.
NAF spokesman, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said this in a statement Wednesday in Abuja.
He said: “The air strikes, which were intensified on 8 April 2019 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.
“Yesterday, 9 April, 2019, 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.
“Reports indicate 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 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 North-west of our dear nation.”
IGP on Katsina mandate
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the police and other security agencies to end banditry and kidnapping activities in Katsina state within the shortest period of time.
Acting Inspector General of Police Muhammed Abubakar Adamu, said this Wednesday in Katsina during a tour of frontline local governments affected by banditry in the state.
Adamu said as a result of the ongoing military onslaught against kidnappers and armed bandits in Zamfara state, most of the armed bandits had relocated to Katsina state, killing dozens and abducting many others in the last one week.
He said it was on this basis President Buhari directed the police and other security agencies to launch a coordinated operation to rid the troubled states in the North-west region of kidnappers and armed bandits.
The IGP further said ‘Operation Puff Adder’ which the police launched in Katsina state earlier in the week, was aimed at clearing the Rugu forest to secure the eight frontline local government areas under the siege of kidnappers and bandits.
During a visit to Government House Katsina, the IGP appealed to the state government to sensitise its people on the need to cooperate with the police, particularly by providing useful information to Special Forces that would man ‘Operation Puff Adder.’
In his remarks, the state’s Deputy Governor, Alhaji Mannir Yakubu, said the state government would participate fully in the operation to rid the state of armed banditry.
He said the state was providing vehicles, houses and allowances to police officers as a way of supporting the personnel in their fight against banditry and kidnapping.
Meanwhile, the IGP led a team of Assistant Inspectors General and senior police officers in the zone to Batsari, Safana and other local government areas to inspect the ongoing operation being carried out with the participation of Civilian Joint Task Force that include local hunters and members of the vigilante groups.