Defend yourselves, Ortom urges Benue people Senate worried over killings, abductions in Kaduna
Emmanuel Ukumba in Lafia, George Okoh in Makurdi and Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed all security agencies in the country to arrest and prosecute any person found with illegal arms.
The directive came as Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, on Tuesday called on the people of the state to brace up to defend themselves against killer herdsmen.
Buhari who was in Lafia yesterday during his one-day working visit to Nasarawa State where he inagurated projects executed by the state Governor, Tanko Al-Makura, said attacks being carried out by suspected herdsmen in the country would not be tolerated even as he appealed to all Nigerians to refrain from reprisals.
â€œThe attacks by suspected herdsmen and others will not be tolerated. I appeal to all Nigerians to refrain from reprisals. The security agencies have been directed to arrest and prosecute any person found with illegal arms,â€ Buhari said.
The president continued by assuring people of the North-central and indeed all Nigerians that the federal government was working day and night to ensure peace and stability in the country, saying: â€œWe are putting additional resources to maintain law and order.â€
Buhari extended his condolences to all those affected in the recent barbaric attacks in the country.
â€œI would like to once again extend my condolences to all the affected victims of those barbaric acts,â€ he said.
He added: â€œI want to assure Nigerians that we will intensify our commitments towards the realisation of the cardinal objectives of this administration which is centred on security of lives and property, curbing corruption and ensuring economic growth through diversification.â€
Buhari also directed the Federal Ministry of Health to streamline with other states of the country to roll out the Community Health
Influencers, Promoters and Services (CHIPS) programme that has taken off at the just inaugurated Model Primary Healthcare Centre, Kwandare in Lafia to enable rural dwellers access health services.
In his welcome speech, Al-Makura commended Buhariâ€™s dogged spirit in fighting the security challenges bedeviling Nigeria, particularly the Boko Haram insurgency, curbing the spate of kidnapping and the ongoing efforts to solve the farmers/herders crises in the country.
He said: â€œWe are very grateful for the recent deployment of six units of mobile policemen, air surveillance across Nasarawa State and its neighbours and also the deployment of army personnel to maintain peace in our belt.â€
Al-Makura, who told Buhari that the state government had taken good care of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the state, continued that â€œon our part, the most contribution is the setting up of a community-based conflict resolution mechanism across the state to mediate in the activities of herders and farmers.â€
He noted that his administration had put in place 50 new Hilux patrol trucks to be distributed to security agencies in the state to help in sustaining the peace that has already been realised.
â€œWe have also put in place 50 Hilux patrol vans to be given to the Nigeria Police, Deparment of State Service (DSS) Nigeria Security and Civil Corps (NSCDC), Nigeria Army among others to help in sustaining the peace that has already been realised in Nasarawa State.â€
Projects inaugrated by Buhari included the Lafia Electronic Library, the state Fire Service facility, Lafia township road network, Lafia Comprehensive Special School, Kwandare Model Primary Healthcare Centre and Karu International Market.
Meanwhile, Governor Ortom who spoke on Radio Benue in Makurdi, said it was necessary for the for the people of Benue State to defend themselves in legitimate way so as not become easy prey to their killers.
The governor who also lifted the curfew declared in Gboko town where some bandit attacked and killed a group of travellers, noted that in spite of the presence of policemen in the state, the killings were still on going in the two local government areas.
He regretted the statements credited to the Inspector General of Police (IG), Ibrahim Idris, blaming the anti-open grazing law for the new year attacks has rather encouraged the herdsmen to continue with their attack on the state.
He also lamented the inability of the security operatives to stop the killings and arrest the killers as well as the perpetrators of the new year killings.
The governor explained that despite the presence of police, the killings in the state was yet to cease, expressing doubt of compromise among those who are supposed to provide security to the people of the state.
According to him, â€œIt is because we are law abiding that is why we are being attacked daily. You need to listen and hear the opinion of the people of the state on the matter.
â€œI think the people should have the right to defend themselves and not make themselves easy prey to be killed in their homes.
â€œSo any lawful means you can adopt to defend yourself just go ahead in Benue State. We are not going to wait for the IG to do it.â€
The governor commiserated with families of the police personnel who were killed in the course of carrying out their official duty in the state.
â€œIt is unfortunate, the police are dying and the IG is playing politics with the issue.
â€œThe man should resign because he has failed woefully. He doesnâ€™t have the capacity.
â€œThere are many good police officers who can take over that job and perform creditably by turning around the security architecture of this country and make things work and protect lives and property. That man has no business being the IG,â€ Ortom lamented.
However, the Senate yesterday expressed worry over insecurity in Kaduna particularly on attacks in Birnin Gwari Local Government Area where about seven persons were recently killed and several others abducted.
This is as the security summit convened by the upper legislative chamber to proffer solutions to the state of insecurity, would hold tomorrow and next Monday, February 8 and 12, 2018.
Senator Shehu Sani (Kaduna APC) raising a point of order at plenary, said Birnin Gwari, which borders Zamfara, Kebbi and Niger States, has been under the siege of armed herdsmen and bandits in the last three years.
â€œOf concern is the fact that killings and abduction have become a daily affair. It is one issue that not been able to get the national attention of the global spotlight. Just few days ago, about seven persons were killed, and continually the killings have been so on a daily basis,â€ he said.
Sani said the government is losing its grip, and would lose its essence when it cannot guarantee the safety of lives and properties of its citizens.
â€œEvery day, this country is becoming a theatre of war, you see bodies of victims killed, dismembered and shared on social media,â€ Sani lamented adding that the killings are shrouded in the guise of ethnic, religious and sectional sentiments.
He further said most people who should speak the truth to power, have chosen to be silent for political reasons.
A part of Nigeria is controlled by government, while another half is controlled by gunmen, Sani said, as widespread killings and violence continue in all parts of the country.
He called for the establishment of a military base in the local government.
Presiding, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said the upper legislative chamber would continue to harp on the need for security, even if it sounds like a broken record.
â€œAs parliamentarians and representatives of the people, it is our responsibility to continuously call the attention of government to some of these things. The issue of the monopoly of force should be that of state but today, the non-state actors have now taken over the issue of violence, which is very regrettable,â€ Ekweremadu said.
He appealed to the government to live up to its responsibilities and protect citizens, as the state of insecurity affects Nigeriaâ€™s international image, discourages foreign direct investments, and erodes the confidence of Nigerians in the government.
The Senate yesterday also called for the deployment of junior cadre policemen to their states and local governments to enhance community policing in Nigeria.
This, it said, would address the disconnect between the police and local communities with their different types of cultural values and orientation.
It therefore mandated its Committee on Police Affairs to invite the Inspector-General of Police, to discuss ways and means of actualising community policing.
This followed a motion sponsored by Senator Ademola Adeleke (Osun PDP) who said such policy would improve community policing through the synergising with vigilante groups, and traditional rulers, to address the current state of insecurity in the country.
â€œThere have been calls for the creation of state police in order to proffer a lasting solution to the perennial security challenges due to the ineffectiveness or outright bias of the Nigeria Police Force in carrying out their national assignment,â€ the senator said.
He further explained that the policy would fill the necessary vacuum, and avail the federal police the opportunity to concentrate on its primary duties of detection, prevention and prosecution of crime at the national level.
Contributing to the debate, Senator Olusola Adeyeye (Osun APC) said Nigeria has to explore all means to enhance policing at the community level.
â€œAll crimes are local and policing should also be local,â€ he said.
Ekweremadu however said while community policing under state police is more effective, it cannot work under Nigeriaâ€™s current structure.
â€œIt will be difficult here, because of our unitary federal police system. Let us get the structure right first, before this,â€ he said.
Meanwhile, the security summit which was postponed on two occasions, would finally get underway on Thursday.
It is expected to be declared open by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Those expected in attendance include 36 state governors, security chiefs, representatives of religious groups, traditional rulers, leaders of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association and Farmers Association of Nigeria.
Recall that the summit was postponed last week due to the burial rites of the former Vice President, Alex Ekwueme.