Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation; Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere; National Consultative Front (NCF), and Prince Tony Momoh, chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), have thrown their weight behind the House of Representatives, asking President Muhammadu Buhari to honour the House invitation following the killing of farmers in Borno on Saturday by Boko Haram Insurgents.
The House of Representatives on Tuesday resolved to invite President Buhari to appear before it to explain circumstances surrounding the current state of insecurity in the North-East and other places in the country.
The members of the House of Representatives are representing their various constituents and they have right to invite the president to appear before them over security situation. So, President Buhari must honour the invitation if he is representing the people of Nigeria.
This is a good development. Why won’t President Buhari appear before them? Is he President of Daura or President of Nigeria? In as much as he is still President of Nigeria, he must appear before the House because the President has failed the people by refusing to refurbish the security architecture of the country.
“Nigeria needs security forces that are proactive and intelligent gathering and not one sided security forces.
“It’s unfortunate that security operatives in Nigeria are one sided so the president needs to bring in experts irrespective of state or region they come from.
“President Buhari was elected to find solution to Nigeria’s problems especially the insecurity but unfortunately he has failed the people by refusing to find solution to the country’s problems,” Ibegbu said.
Afenifere also on Tuesday said it is mandatory for Buhari to brief the House of Representatives on the true state of the security situation in the country.
Speaking with Daily Independent, Yinka Odumakin, National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, said the president should appear before the lawmakers in order to give Nigerians the true picture of things and steps being taken to stop mindless killings in the country.
“Definitely, he should appear before the lawmakers. Except he is not the president of the country, that is why he should not honour the invitation. But if he is the President of Nigeria, he should honour it. The killings in the country is too much.
How can 110 people be killed in a day? And yet the spokesman of the president will be making useless statements, blaming the farmers for not obtaining military clearance before entering their farms. What respect do these people have for human blood? They don’t have respect for human lives anymore.
“If the president has scant regards for the lives of Nigerians, he must honour the invitation and explain to the lawmakers what is going on. He is our commander-in-chief not our lamenter-in-chief.
“After the killings, he will be saying ‘I am shocked’, ‘I condemn it’. No, we don’t need to condemn killings. What are you doing to prevent further killings? He needs to go and tell the lawmakers”.
Also speaking, Tanko Yunusa, a former presidential candidate and National Consultative Front’s (NCF) Head of Public Affairs Bureau, said the president must honour the invitation and speak to the lawmakers who are the representatives of the people.
Definitely, he should appear before the lawmakers. He needs to come and talk to Nigerians through their elected representatives on the steps he is taking to keep Nigeria secure. He should go and explain what is happening as Nigerians have a right to know. Nigerians are not happy”, he said.
On his part, Prince Tony Momoh, one of the national leaders of APC, said while the lawmakers have a right to invite the president, it may be difficult for him to divulge important security information in public.
“They can invite anybody to explain but I don’t know how the president can come to them and start to explain security issues to them in front of the camera. As the president, he gets briefing from service chiefs on the security situation. Will he now be revealing this in public glare?”
Also speaking, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), who is a human rights lawyer, said the president must honour the invitation of the lawmakers to explain what he was doing about the security situation in the country which, according to him, had collapsed.
“The president should honour the invitation of the House of Representatives in order to explain to the nation what he is doing about the collapsed security of Nigeria.
“The situation has gotten out of hand such that we can no longer leave the matter with the president again.
“Security is everybody’s business, so we must all get involved through our elected representatives.
“It will be unconstitutional for the president to ignore the invitation of the House as that will send a wrong signal of lack of empathy for the killings going on across the land,” he said.
On his part, Chief Sunny Onuesoke, a former governorship aspirant and chieftain of the PDP, also threw his weight behind the call of the lawmakers, asking the president to honour the summons.
“Absolutely. It’s imperative. The president should, as a matter of urgency, in view of the sad security situation in the country appear physically to address the House on the correct situation of things in the country.
“If the president can address and present his budget annually physically before both chambers of the National Assembly, what stops him from not appearing before them when summoned?
“Besides, it is constitutional for him to do so and explain to the House, as they represent the entire country, on what he is doing on the safety of lives and property of Nigerians.”
Following the current state of insecurity in the North-East and other places in the country, the House of Representatives on Tuesday resolved to invite President Muhammadu Buhari.
This was as the House found itself in a rowdy session following attempts by the leadership to block a prayer in a motion which called for the invitation of the president.
The House Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, had earlier disallowed debates on the motion moved by Hon. Ahmed Satomi calling attention to the wanton destruction of lives in the North Eastern state of Borno, which forced members to only suggest amendments to the prayers.
Satomi’s motion, moved on behalf of 10 others, was on the ‘Urgent Need to Condemn and Investigate the Insane Killing of Unarmed Farmers in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State’.
While calling on the House to condemn the dastardly act, the lawmaker, however, substituted the original prayer to invite the president for explanations with “urging the president to declare a state of emergency on insecurity in the North-East and Nigeria”, whilst calling for a thorough investigation into the Saturday massacre of over 43 farmers on rice field.
First to move for amendment was the Deputy Minority Leader, Tobi Okechukwu, who called for an investigation into the activities of the Defence Industrial Corporation of Nigeria (DICON).
Okechukwu wanted the House to “mandate the Committee on Defence to investigate DICON on its preparedness to manufacture weapons in the face of alleged international gang up against Nigeria’s effort to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency”.
However, Hon. Ahmed Usman Jaha, who said he was elected to the House from an IDP camp in Borno, moved a point of order on matters of privilege, saying that the motion jointly moved by all Borno lawmakers in the House had been watered down as the prayer to invite the president for explanations on the state of security in Nigeria was no longer there.
He said: “Mr. Speaker, I rise to move on Order 6 Rule 1, Matter of Privilege, that I’m one of the core sponsors of this motion, as well as other members from Borno.
“And we all agreed that the prayers of this motion should remain. But when the member (Hon. Ahmed Satomi) read out the motion, I realised he left out one of the key prayers.
“There is a particular prayer where we said the president and heads of security agencies should come and explain to us why our people are still being killed despite trillions of budgetary allocations and legislative support we have given.”
At this point, the speaker intervened, urging Jaha to allow the prayer for the president to declare a state of emergency on insecurity to stand instead of inviting him.
“This is an appeal from the chair that in a motion of this nature, it’s not all the time we allow ourselves to go all out and say we should invite the head of the executive to tell us what the security situation is.
“I very much understand the pain and the emotion and I share in it, but the prayer to declare state of emergency on insecurity, for me, has far more reaching implications and significance.
“That will go a long way to address the root cause of the matter, and I think we should explore that avenue instead,” Gbajabiamila pleaded.
But Hon. Jaha stood his ground, saying that “the prayer is not mine as an individual”.
He added: “My colleagues from Borno are seated here; let them say that I’m lying, that we did not agree to leave the prayer as part of the resolutions.
“I don’t want my people who elected me from an IDP camp to think that we are here bench-warming.
“Let me say it for the world to hear that we want the president to come and explain to this House why his security chiefs are not doing their jobs, because each time issues are raised, they said they lack adequate funds and equipment, but the president said he has given them all necessary support to enable them carry out their duties, so we need explanations.
“I’ve said it, let the world know that it is the House that is rejecting the prayer.
“But my motion is that Mr. President should be invited to come and explain the security situation in the country, especially in the North-East.”
The point of order degenerated into a rowdy session, forcing the speaker to dissolve the House into an executive session.
However, before then, the speaker expressed disappointment at the attitude of members who were interrupting the House Leader, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, and Hon. Idris Koko, who all aligned with the motion as moved by Hon. Satomi.
“This must be said and I’m going to say it here on the floor. I’m a little bit disappointed to see that a lot of us are saying no, no, when some members were given the floor and were talking over a matter that borders on national security.
“This House, from the beginning, has never been divided and I’m not going to allow that now.
“So, I move that we dissolve into an executive session right now to resolve this issue,” Gbajabiamila ruled.
After about an hour, the House reverted to plenary where Hon. Jaha was asked to formally move an amendment to the motion inviting the president to appear before the House to brief it on the state of security in the country.
Similarly, the upper chamber of the National Assembly on Tuesday slammed President Muhammadu Buhari’s government over the killing of farmers in Borno State and other parts of the country.
Lamenting the high rate of killings in the country by Boko Haram, the lawmakers said that any government which failed to protect the lives of the people had lost its legitimacy and breach Section 14 (1) of the constitution.
The Senate also said that it would assess the performance of the military and probe its budget to know if the funds allocated to it to fight insecurity was judiciously utilised.
Lamenting the failure of government to guarantee safety of lives and the inability of the authorities to end the state of insecurity in the country, the lawmakers took turn to condemn the activities of criminals who unleash mayhem on defenceless citizens across the country, especially in the North-East.
The lawmakers, who expressed their minds while contributing to a motion sponsored by Senator Kashim Shettima (APC, Borno Central), added that if President Buhari insisted on retaining the service chiefs, the logical conclusion would be that Mr. President had failed in his assignment of securing the nation.
In their resolutions, the lawmakers urged President Buhari to immediately initiate a transitional process of phasing out the current over-stayed security chiefs and replacing them with new ones with new ideas and solutions.
The Senate urged the president to take immediate steps to restructure, remode, and revamp the country’s entire security architecture and provide enough state-of-the-art weapons and equipment to effectively combat the belligerent power of the insurgents.
The upper chamber also urged the president to immediately initiate a probe into widespread allegations of corruption and leakages within the security structure and put mechanisms in place to foster transparency and ensure all resources meant and deployed for security were actually spent on the needs on the ground.
They further impressed on the Federal Government the need to aggressively explore multilateral and bilateral options of partnership with the neighbouring nations of Chad, Niger, and Cameroons towards reviving and strengthening the Multinational Joint Task Force and finding a lasting solution to the scourge of insurgency in the Lake Chad region.
The Senate asked the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, recruit at least 10,000 Civilian JTF, versatile with the local terrain in Borno, as agro-rangers under the aegis of the NCDSC to complement the efforts of the Nigerian Armed Forces and, coming under order 42 and 45 of the Senate rules, Shettima lamented that 2,801 attacks had been carried out between January and November this year in the state.
In his motion titled, ‘Beheading of 67 Farmers in Borno by Boko Haram Insurgents: Need for Urgent Decisive Action’, the lawmaker disclosed that about 40,000 people, mostly unarmed civilians, had been brutally murdered.
He said 2.5 million people had been displaced from their homes and farms, property worth trillions of naira wantonly destroyed, and over 7 million people – mostly women and children – plunged into dire humanitarian needs.
He said: “Over the weekend, Boko Haram insurgent members beheaded 67 farmers who had gone to a rice plantation at Kwashabe village in Zabarmari District of Jere Local Government Area, 20 kilometres north of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, to harvest ripe farm produce and destroyed the farm.
“This attack is one of the major attacks perpetrated by this devilish group in addition to the February attack in Auno that killed 40 people, the assault in Foduma Koloram village of Gubio that killed almost 100 civilians in last June, while another attack in Usman Lawanti left another 40 dead.
“Last month, Boko Haram fighters killed 22 farmers working on irrigation fields near Maiduguri in two separate incidents.
“More than 67 citizens were beheaded while they were working in their farmland without any form of resistance or challenge from the security agencies stationed a few kilometres away.
“The Nigerian military, in conjunction with other security agencies, up till today have not been able to quell the insurgency affecting the region despite the slogan by government officials that the insurgents had been technically defeated.”
He said that whatever it was that the present security chiefs were doing was not working or at least not enough.
He added: “If the president insists that the security chiefs are doing their work well, then the logical implication of such assumption is that the president himself, as the constitutional commander-in-chief of the country, has failed in his most rudimentary assignment of securing the nation. I hope the latter is not the case.”
In his contribution, Senator Ahmed Baba Keita lamented that the killing was one too many, adding that the time for truth had come.
“The situation in the North-East can’t be allowed to continue,” he said, describing the statement from President Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, as irresponsible and insensitive.
Taking on the activities of the military in the fight against Boko Haram, the lawmaker said: “We have to sit down and reassess their (military) performance in the North-East. If we allow this to go, let us be ready for more mourning.
“Buhari is doing his best but his best is not enough. It is no longer about money because the money we have pumped in is enough for results to be seen.
“We should investigate the funding for the military and we should no more give them money until we are sure that they spent what we had given them.”
Senator Ali Ndume, on his part, also lamented that reports of insecurity had not been implemented, insisting that the Senate needed to move further to save the nation.
He further lamented that soldiers at the war front shared ammunition, noting that the soldiers were not well-kitted and without new weapons.
Ndume insisted that if the government was serious in the fight against insurgency, in six months or less, Boko Haram would be defeated.
He disclosed how about 1000 Chadian soldiers wanted to assist the Nigerian government in the fight against Boko Haram, but decided to leave because the government was not serious about the collaboration.
He quoted Section 14 (1a and b) of the constitution to explain the role government ought to play in the lives of the citizens.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, who presided over the plenary, said: “This is supposed to be a turning point for insecurity in Nigeria.
“Enough of excuses. People who have nothing to offer should be shown the way out. Security should take centre stage.
“The Senate will do everything to ensure that these resolutions are respected and implemented.