Decries Lack of Inter-agency Cooperation on IDPs


*House summons air force chief over assault on Osun varsity
James Emejo in Abuja

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Tuesday condemned the lack of inter-agency cooperation in dealing with displaced persons, refugees and migrants in the country.

He urged the executive to adopt a workable policy for internally displaced persons, noting that the House would soon amend existing laws to coordinate issues affecting displacement of persons, refugees and migrants in the country.

Meanwhile, the House has passed a resolution to probe the personnel of Nigerian Air Force over alleged assault inflicted on staff and students of Osun State University.
It further resolved to summon the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadiq Abubakar, to appear before its Committee on Air Force, following a motion sponsored by Hon. Oluwole Oke (PDP-Osun).

However, Dogara, while declaring open, a public hearing on a bill to establish a National Commission for Internally Displaced Persons, Refugees and Migrants, said the least the government owed its citizens who are displaced due to circumstances beyond their control was to organise government’s response to their needs in a competent and accountable manner.
He said: “This bill creates a focal point to give policy direction, and aid faithful execution of government policies and programmes. It will further help to coordinate all issues affecting displacement of persons, refugees and migrants in Nigeria.

“The era when multiple agencies and government departments working at cross purposes without coordination should be over. Internal displacement and refugee situations destroy the lives of people and subject persons to dehumanising situation of helplessness.

“The least we owe to our citizens who are displaced due to no fault of theirs is to organise government response to their needs in a competent and accountable manner.
“The executive arm of government should make a deliberate effort to adopt a workable IDP Policy of Nigeria which was drafted since 2012 but has not been adopted by the Federal Executive Council,” he stated.

He also noted that the problem of internal displacement is a nationwide phenomenon, resulting from conflicts of various nature; the farmers and cattle-rearers’ conflict; Bakassi returnees and ethno-religious disturbances, which is why the House of Representatives is taking steps to address rising issues from the conflicts.

“As legislature, we are poised to finding lasting solutions to the issues relating to internal displacement, migration and statelessness. This is the more reason we are putting in place measures that would pave way to achieving this. And this Bill is obviously one of these measures.

Meanwhile, Oke, in his motion said: “The personnel of the Nigerian Air Force Safety Institute, Ipetu-Ijesa Osun State, had May 23, 2017 invaded the Ipetu-Ijesa campus of Osun State University and used guns, clubs, knives and other lethal weapons to attack students of the university, leaving numerous persons severely injured and lat hospitalised.”

The House noted that as a result of the fear and apprehension that gripped the university community following the assault, the university had to be closed down for a week and the students were forced to embark on unplanned journeys that subjected them to avoidable hazards and inconveniences.”

The House observed that the action of the personnel of the air force is a throwback to the abusive patterns and behaviours of security forces during the bygone military era and amounted to a gross violation of the right to the dignity of the human person enshrined in section 34 of the 1999 Constitution.”

He said: “If urgent steps are not taken to address these concerns, security personnel could become emboldened to indiscriminate use of force to settle personal scores which will lead to a breakdown of law and civilized behavior that govern the society.”
To this end, the House mandated the Committee on Air Force to investigate the alleged assault and report back within six weeks for further legislative action.