* House urges service chiefs to relocate to Maiduguri
Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has decried the spate of insecurity in the country.
He said neither the security institutions nor political leaders can afford to hold on too tightly to a status quo whose frustrating limitations are painfully evident, whilst reflexively rejecting innovations that may improve the country’s fortunes if properly implemented.
The Speaker, while delivering his speech at the resumption of the 2020 legislative session Wednesday, said that since the House last convened, there had been developments in the public space that concerns them, especially with the recognisable uptick in crime across the country, manifested through the activities of bandits destroying communities, kidnappers operating for profit and insurgents seeking to remake the world in the image of a discredited theocracy.
He stressed that all people of conscience mourn the loss of a reverend and a senior member of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Adamawa State, Mr. Lawan Adimi, who was recently executed by the Boko Haram sect.
He added that in the midst of mourning, their hearts were broken once more by the release of a video depicting the gruesome assassination of Mr. Ropvil Dalep Daciya, a student from Plateau State, who was abducted by suspected Boko Haram terrorists on his way back to school at the University of Maiduguri.
Gbajabiamila said that overcoming the country’s overwhelming national security challenges now requires of everyone that would be willing to accept new approaches and consider novel ideas.
He stated: “Neither the security institutions nor political leaders can afford to hold on too tightly to a status quo whose frustrating limitations are painfully evident, whilst reflexively rejecting innovations that may improve our fortunes if properly implemented.
“Our cup of endurance has run over and we are no longer willing to labour under these dark clouds of random violence inflicted upon our people by faceless cowards whose ends we do not understand, and whose means we do not know.
“God forbid that it is now our nation’s fate to live forever under the threat of abduction and murder. What gaps and weaknesses continue to exist in the national security infrastructure that makes us more susceptible to the machinations of those who seek to achieve wealth and power through brutal violence?
“How do we achieve for all our people, a just and honourable peace? These questions are never too far from my mind, and I know that it is the same for you too because often it is you who are at the front lines responding to the concerns of constituents who have themselves been victimised and those who fear that the moment of their own affliction is only a matter of time and circumstance.
“This House will shortly take action to put these questions before those agencies of our national security to whom our constitution and other legislation have granted the powers and the resources to ensure the safety and security of all our people.”
The Speaker noted that recently, the Governors of Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti, Oyo and Ondo States took action to implement a regional security network to support the efforts of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) in preventing crime and protecting the lives and property of citizens who live, work and travel through these states.
He said the establishment of Àmòtékùn, as the network is called, has met with commentary from across the country, both for and against.
He stated categorically that too often, it has seemed to him that lost in these interactions is the hard, brutal and unavoidable fact that Àmòtékùn and other such state or zonal interventions that already quietly exist in other parts of the country are a desperate response to the vile manifestations of insecurity that trouble the lives of citizens, depriving them of the peace and security that gives life meaning.
Gbajabiamila noted that he did not know that Àmòtékùn or whatever iterations of it may follow represents the ultimate or perfect solution to the problem of insecurity in the country, adding: “What I do know with absolute clarity and certainty is that the localised manifestations of insecurity across the different parts of our country call for unique and localised approaches that take those peculiarities into account. “
The Speaker also revealed that his office has been briefed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on the nation’s preparedness to prevent the occurrence of coronavirus disease in Nigeria, as well as contingency plans to prevent escalation.
He added that the NCDC working with the Ministry of Health, the Ports Health Services, the United States Centre for Disease Control (USCDC), and the World Health Organisation (WHO), amongst others has put in place protocols for identifying, isolating and testing those who are deemed to be most at risk.
Meanwhile, the House has urged the Chiefs of Army and Air Staff to relocate to Maiduguri until relative peace is achieved in the North-east zone.
The House gave the directive following the adoption of a motion of urgent national importance on the need to curb the incessant attacks of the Boko Haram insurgents moved by Hon. Mohammed Monguno.
He lamented that recently, the Boko Haram insurgents who were relegated to the background are now unleashing terror in Borno and Yobe States.
Monguno stressed that recently the insurgents have forced the Nigerian military to close traffic on the Damaturu-Maiduguri Road for some days, while adding that the Damaturu-Maiduguri road is the only access from Maiduguri to other parts of Nigeria.
The lawmaker however expressed worry that the closure of the road has left travellers stranded and affected business activities in Maiduguri and is thus causing untold hardship to the people.
Monguno, who was visibly disturbed, said that the closure of the road was an indication that the Boko Haram insurgents have seized the road and attacked communities on that axis.
He said that the incessant attacks on the communities along the Damaturu-Maiduguri road axis have forced the residents of the communities to flee to refugee camps in Maiduguri for safety.
The House therefore urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Nigerian Army and Air Force to intensify checks on the road.