• Again, Buhari orders arrest of persons involved in killings

Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt, Omololu Ogunmade, Damilola Oyedele in Abuja and George Okoh in Makurdi with agency report   

The Benue State Police Command has confirmed that suspected herdsmen may have killed a staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) working on a pipeline along the border of Benue and Nasarawa States in Guma Local Government Area.

Similarly, the Nasarawa State Police Command yesterday confirmed the killing of seven persons by unidentified gunmen suspected to be herders on Mondaynight in the state.

The new Commissioner of Police in Benue State, Mr. Fatai Owoseni who spoke on the slaying of the NNPC staff during his first media briefing yesterday in Makurdi, said the victim was one of the officials of the corporation who were on an official assignment in the area.

He said that the attack occurred yesterday, adding that the police were still investigating the nature of the attack and the identity of other victims who some locals claimed were miners.

“From what we have gathered so far, the attack may have been carried out by some armed bandits but we are investigating.”

The police commissioner who also disclosed that two policemen were killed recently in Ukum Local Government Area of the state, stated that the problem around Ukum and Katsina-Ala was a communal clash and an act of banditry that was traced to the wanted militia leader, Terwase Akwaza, alias Ghana.

“What happened in Ukum and Kastina-Ala was purely an act of banditry which some criminals took advantage of. Most acts of banditry taking place in that axis are traced to Ghana.”

Owoseni also lamented that criminals in the area were taking advantage of the clashes between herders of cattle and farmers to perpetrate their own criminal acts, noting that it was for this reason the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, deployed special forces who are well trained to combat such criminality in the area.

He said some persons had been invited for interrogation, even as investigations were ongoing to unravel the cause of the clash but regretted what he described as the conspiracy of silence in the area.

The CP also urged the media to partner with the police in the onerous task of improving security, stating: “If the media keep reporting negative things about the country, we might be preventing investors from coming and investing in the country/”

Unknown gunmen last week ambushed two policemen in Ukum Local Government Area, killing them and setting their bodies on fire.

In neighbouring Nasarawa State, the police command also confirmed the killing of seven people by unidentified gunmen suspected to be herders on Mondaynight.

The attack happened at Kadarko, a village in Keana Local Government Area of the state.

According to Mr. Kennedy Idirisu, the force public relations officer, the victims were killed by gunmen who invaded the village on Monday, reported the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

He described the incident as “saddening”, saying that a special police team, led by a senior officer, had been deployed in the area to forestall a recurrence.

Kadarko village has come under severe attacks lately, with cattle rustlers reportedly killing 73 cows on Sunday.

Two herdsmen were reported missing after the rustlers’ invasion.

NAN also reported that Alhaji Ahmed Bello, the Commissioner of Police in Nasarawa, visited the village on Sunday and assured residents that investigation had commenced so as to apprehend the rustlers.

Just as the police in Benue and Nasarawa confirmed another round of gruesome attacks in their states, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday reiterated his order to the police and other security agencies to arrest and prosecute all persons involved in the recent killings in Benue and Taraba States.

The president, who spoke at the 9th General Assembly of the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria (NCTRN) in Port Harcourt, River State, said the arrests had become imperative because the attacks in those states amounted to a declaration of war on Nigeria and its territorial integrity.

 This came as Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, stated that since the country was yet to decentralise the police force and other security agencies, his administration has forwarded a bill to the state House of Assembly to establish the Neighbourhood Security Corps to co-operate, support and complement the efforts of the regular security agencies in policing communities in the state and advancing their security. 

Buhari, who was represented by Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdurahman Dambazau (retd.), stated that everyone involved in atrocities across the country would be dealt with in accordance with the law.  

He assured Nigerians that the federal government would not shy away from its responsibility of protecting lives, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Nigeria.

“I am saddened by the waste of lives and property, and I have directed the Inspector General of Police that no one must be spared in all the atrocities.

“The killings in Benue and other states must be brought to an end because the action amounts to a declaration of war on Nigeria, its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.

According to president, the federal government was confident about restoring security in every part of the country with the support of the traditional rulers.

“When you relegate the royal fathers, you have automatically failed in taking governance to the grassroots.

“With your support as traditional rulers, we are sure of restoring peace to any part of the nation that is currently under security threat,” he added.

The president reaffirmed the government’s resolve to work closely with the traditional rulers because of their importance, not just on the security architecture but also in community development.

He urged the traditional rulers to enforce friendship among them and take it down to their communities to achieve national cohesion.

“Ensure that there is partnership among your communities; this will give way for cultural interactions and national integration,” he said.

The president commended the traditional rulers for the theme of their conference: “Community Policing as a Catalyst to Crime Prevention: The Role of Traditional Rulers.”

He stated that community policing was key to ensuring national security, as it would contribute in arresting crime at the grassroots.

In his remarks, Wike reiterated his call for the decentralisation of security services as a way of resolving the deadly security challenges facing the country.  

The governor noted that the security services, as currently constituted, cannot address the security challenges in the country, where lives are wasted regularly, while governors are helpless. 

He said the Rivers State Government has taken steps to improve her security through the setting up of a neighbourhood security watch.   

He said: “For us in Rivers State, our position on state and community policing is very clear. While we join our voices to other well-meaning Nigerians to strongly and emphatically demand for the decentralisation and depoliticisation of the security services, we are also not resting on the back of helplessness by doing nothing. 

“Already, we have forwarded a bill to the state House of Assembly to establish the Neighbourhood Security Corps to co-operate, support and complement the efforts of the regular security agencies in policing our communities and advancing their security.

“The reality before the nation is that centralised policing has flatly failed and is incapable of resolving the enormous security challenges of a vast and culturally diverse country like Nigeria.

“And even as we may continue to live in denial, the recurring bloodbaths in Benue, Taraba and other states have once again exposed the weaknesses of our country’s centralised policing system as well as the frustrations and near complete helplessness of state governors in their quest to provide adequate security for the communities and the people that they govern.

“We can only imagine the magnitude of the sufferings and pains ordinary Nigerians are going through when the daily pains of violence and insecurity are added to the unending pressure of poverty, unemployment and lack of development.”

Wike said at a time like this, it would be ungodly for good men to remain silent while the nation is dangerously wobbling.

He urged all well-meaning persons to be counted among those who would work for the resolution of the security challenges facing the country.

He said Rivers State was peaceful, working and brimming with ample economic opportunities for investors to take advantage of, adding that the traditional institutions must wake up to their responsibilities by lending their strong and respected voices to the national agitation for true federalism, resource control, greater devolution of powers, state and community policing, and good governance in the country.

“In all these, our traditional rulers have significant roles to play to protect and defend the nation’s unity and advance the rights of our people to democracy, good governance and development,” he said.

At the 9th General Assembly of NCTRN, the council of rulers also called on the federal government to end the senseless killings in the country, saying that life was too sacred to be wasted.

The chairman of NCTRN and Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Muhammad Abubakar II, also called on the federal government to institute a high-powered commission of inquiry to investigate the killings across the country.

He urged the federal government and law enforcement agents to rise up to the challenge of securing lives and property.

“As we are meeting, if what is happening is the failure of governance, we will discuss it in details and come up with an appropriate report to help government and the Nigerian society,” he said.

According to him, the traditional rulers were capable of stating things the way they are without sentiment in order to move the nation forward.

“We existed before 1914, so we have seen it all. We are here permanently unlike the political office holders that have tenures.

“We must close ranks as traditional rulers to help build Nigeria Let us build the comradeship we have among us down to the communities and let’s mean what we say, and say what we mean.

“Our coming together is unique. It implies that nothing can divide us. So, let us reduce the tension in the country because this is the time for statesmen to work for Nigeria.

“Let us stand and face the people that want to destroy our country,” he added.

The Sultan noted that Nigeria being part of the world, there could be external threats against her through the use of religion and ethnicity.

He urged the security agencies to always seek for the support as the traditional rulers because they had the network to help them.

Also, the Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Ogunwusi, pleaded with the traditional rulers to put politics aside and work assiduously toward meeting the challenges in the country.

“Some sections of Nigeria are aggrieved and some feel oppressed; let us come together and take up this challenge so that no one will blame us.

“Let us put politics aside, engage in peer review, apply sense of right and wrong, and speak the truth.

“The responsibility lies on our head; we must stop the blame game and stop talking the talk but walk the talk,” Ogunwusi said.

Earlier, King Dandeson Jaja, the Amayanabo of Opobo and chairman, Local Organising Committee, said that Nigerians were eager to hear from the traditional rulers.

Jaja urged the federal government and the royal fathers to rise above ethnicity and sentiments to tackle the challenges in the country.

“The federal government should tackle the economic challenges and deteriorating security situation in the country,” he said.

He also decried the fact that traditional rulers were dependent on government sponsorship to organise their programmes.

But thanked Wike for hosting them and assured him that their stay in Rivers would be memorable.

 

‘Violence Has Done Great Damage’

 

But even as the traditional rulers urged the federal government to act quickly to stem the violence in several states in the country, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday bemoaned the protracted violence carried out by the herdsmen, saying it had not only done great damage to people’s psyche but also created fear in them.

The vice-president made the remark while receiving a delegation of some leaders from Adamawa State led by the traditional rulers of Batta and Bachamma communities in the state.

The traditional rulers were the Hama Batta, Homun Alhamdu Teneke, and the Hama Bachamma, Homun Honest Irmiya Stephen.

He told the traditional rulers whose people were the victims of recent attacks perpetrated by herdsmen that the government would address the violence in the land and restore peace in the affected communities.

“President Muhammadu Buhari is determined to resolve the herdsmen-farmers’ clashes in Adamawa State and return peace and order to the affected communities.

“Much damage has been done, not just security-wise, but to the psyche of the people; due to the series of attacks, people are afraid.

“We are also looking at repairing the damage that has been done to the infrastructure of the communities and rehabilitating the people,” he said.

A statement by his spokesman, Mr. Laolu Akande, said following the vice-president’s visit to the affected communities in Adamawa State on December 5, 2017, he had commenced a series of national consultations with all the relevant groups.

The consultations are designed to find a lasting solution to the farmers-herders’ conflicts in various parts of the country.

According to him, Osinbajo had had a meeting with the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II; the Lamido of Adamawa, Muhammadu Barkindo Aliyu Musdafa; elder statesman, Malam Ahmed Joda; and other leaders of Fulani communities on December 11, 2017.

The statement further said Osinbajo disclosed that the report submitted by the National Animal Production Research Institute (NAPRI), Zaria, on the crisis would be considered.

It also said Osinbajo admonished the people of the affected communities to embrace peace and avoid reprisals, emphasising that it was important to disarm anyone caught with arms and weapons because it is an offence for anyone to carry unlicensed firearms.

Akande said in his submission, the Hama Batta thanked the vice-president for the invitation and his earlier visit to the affected communities late last year.

He was quoted as saying, “We came to thank you for your visit (to Numan communities). You made promises of relief materials when you visited, and the relief materials were brought.

“Also, the Special Forces that you promised responded on time. There is also now a police command with a Commissioner of Police.”

The stated added that his colleague, the Hama Bachamma, also echoed him thanking the presidency for its efforts so far in tackling the issue.

 

Security Summit Suspended

 

Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday announced the postponement of its planned national security summit in honour of former Vice-President Alex Ekwueme who would be buried Saturday.

The summit, initially scheduled to hold on January 24 and 25, was postponed to February 1 and 5 to allow for adequate preparations.

It has again been postponed to a yet-to-be announced date. 

A statement by the Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of the Security Infrastructure, said the latest postponement was to allow lawmakers participate in the funeral programme for the late vice-resident. 

The Senate leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan, who signed the statement, said a new date would be announced soon.

He extended the Senate’s apologies to stakeholders who had been invited. 

“The summit was organised to provide an all inclusive platform for heads of security and defence agencies, governors, traditional rulers, socio-cultural groups, civil society organisations and others, with a view to finding solutions to the acute and long term security challenges in the country,” the statement read.