•Urges mass recruitment into military
•Airforce chief sends more assault helicopters to Niger
Udora Orizu in Abuja, Francis Sardauna in Katsina and Laleye Dipo in Minna
With the increasing spate of insecurity in the country, the House of Representatives has again passed a vote of no confidence on the service chiefs as well as the National Security Adviser (NSA) and called for their immediate resignation.
The reiteration of the security chiefs’ ouster came barely four weeks after the lawmakers had called on President Muhammadu Buhari to replace them.
The Senate, last month after a six-hour debate on the spike in insecurity in Nigeria, had called on Buhari to declare a national security emergency in the country.
The worrisome security situation in the country also engaged the attention of the House, which at plenary had unanimously demanded the resignation of the service chiefs for suboptimal performance.
The House had further requested the president to sack them if they failed to heed the call to resign.
The House’s renewed call for the removal of the service chiefs came against the backdrop of weekend attacks by Boko Haram fighters on Garkida town in Adamawa State. The insurgents operated for several hours unchallenged, shooting sporadically, killing many people and burning down houses and property.
But the lawmakers, after unanimously adopting a motion sponsored by Hon. Yusuf Buba Yakub, demanded the immediate resignation of the service chiefs and the NSA.
The House also asked the federal government to urgently commence mass recruitment into the military.
The call for more recruitment into the military came as the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, has directed that more assault helicopters and medical personnel be immediately deployed in the troubled communities in Niger State, following the escalation in attacks on villagers by bandits.
The Katsina State Governor, Hon. Aminu Bello Masari, has also admonished Islamic clerics and traditional rulers to shun inflammatory utterances capable of disrupting his administration’s efforts to end banditry and kidnapping orchestrated by those he called illiterates.
Presenting the motion entitled: “Motion of urgent national importance on the need for the federal government to provide adequate security, reconstruction and relief materials to parts of my constituency attacked by insurgents and for the Nigerian army review strategy on its current campaign against terrorism,” Yakub frowned on the security situation that has continued to claim lives and property.
He warned that if nothing urgent was done to increase the number of soldiers by way of massive recruitment, it would impair the prosecution of the anti-insurgency war.
He said: “The House notes that in the recent weeks there has been a series of upsurge in the activities of Boko Haram insurgents across many parts of the northern zone, which has since 2010 continued to witness incessant attacks by the group.
It is easy to recall in the last few weeks, the Auno in Borno State and Garkida in Adamawa State attacks, including others that are not reported. These have left the world asking questions that remained unanswered. “These attacks coming ferociously after a time the insurgents were said to have been highly degraded, to say the least, have left our people in even more grave danger and have left our homes, business premises, places of worship, farms and above all lives at the mercy of the insurgents.”
Supporting the motion, Hon. Sarki Ader from Sokoto State, said the sorry situation should invoke shame on the service chiefs and the NSA who could not stop the attacks.
He said: “It is a shame on the service chiefs and National Security Adviser. We invited them here about three times.
They told us they are on top of the situation but as it is today, they are not on top of anything. It a shame on the service chiefs. We should not be afraid of anything. They should resign and give way to other vibrant and tested soldiers. The service chiefs and national security adviser should go. They are against nation. Hon, colleagues, please, support this motion and let them go.”
Also contributing, Hon. Ahmed Jaha from Borno State said the service chiefs have run out of ideas.
“You must not live in your comfort zone while your constituents are dying. For how long shall we be repelling attacks in this country? My people voted for me under duress because they had been sending messages of attacks.
“Honourable members, the service chiefs are out of ideas completely. We know this, Mr. Speaker; it is better to do something to save Nigerians. As far as I am concerned, our people are dying and I am not comfortable with that,” he said.
Jaha added that if this insecurity persists, he will resign.
Also, the Chairman, House Committee on Defence, Hon. Babajimi Benson, traced the root of insecurity in the country to institutional failures.
Speaking exclusively to THISDAY, the lawmaker described Nigeria as under policed, saying that more recruitment and inventory are needed as soon as possible.
According to him, “The population of Nigeria is approximately 200 million and we cannot boast 400,000 policemen. We need to ramp up on our recruitment; we need to ramp up on inventory like guns, ammunition and we need it as soon as possible so that we can end this war in the shortest possible time. It’s embarrassing it has lasted for over ten years. All hands need to on deck so that we can wipe out this insurgency.”
CAS Directs More Assault Helicopters to Niger
Meanwhile, following the escalation in attacks by bandits in villagers in Niger State, Abubakar has directed that more assault helicopters and medical personnel be immediately deployed in the troubled communities.
He said NAF medical personnel would also give free medical treatment to victims of banditry presently at IDPs camps in the state.
The Chief of Air Staff gave the directive in Minna, the Niger State capital, yesterday when he paid a courtesy visit on the state Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, after assessing the progress of the ongoing air operation in the state.
He said more troops would be deployed in the state to complement the efforts of those on the ground.
Exchanging views with some journalists, Abubakar assured them that the war against Boko Haram, kidnapping and banditry will soon be over.
“The Nigerian Air Force is working closely with other security agencies under the directives of the president to ensure that banditry is brought under control.
“I am here to assess what we are doing in terms of air operation to support the ground troops to ensure that the challenges we are facing here in Niger state and other parts of the country is addressed.
“I have taken the assessment of the progress so far and I have seen that we have enough logistics, we have enough aviation fuel brought from our strategic reserves and in the next few days, we will deploy more helicopters to give more supports to the ground troops.
“With additional personnel to support the ground troops, we should be able to substantially reduce this crisis that we are having.”
Earlier, Bello had told the Chief of Air Staff that the last three months had been challenging to the state government and the people following the activities of the bandits.
Bello, however, assured the CAS that the state government will support all security agencies in the fight against banditry.
He commended the NAF for its commitment in the fight against banditry in the state.
On his part, Masari has admonished Islamic clerics and traditional rulers to shun inflammatory utterances capable of disrupting his administration’s efforts to end banditry and kidnapping.
He said an atmosphere of bitterness and rancour, caused by inflammatory comments, would not foster the kind of development, which citizens of the state are yearning for.
Masari, who spoke during a two-day training for imams, organised by the Katsina State chapter of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), said if the clergies could centre their sermons on peace as enshrined in the Qur’an, rivalry, violence and drug abuse among the citizenry would be averted.
He said: “The biggest problem is that those who have the religion don’t even know it and all the forests that we have in the state are occupied by them and they call themselves Muslims.
“And most of the imams are the ones entering these remote villages to perform wedding and naming ceremonies for them. Therefore, imams and traditional rulers did not do what is expected of them.
“Surprisingly, most of the imams don’t even know what they are preaching during Friday sermons. They don’t deliver message where it is expected of them. If they are taking messages to where is suppose to, the problem of drug and other substances abuse wouldn’t have been rampant in this country”.
The Emir of Katsina, Dr. Abdulmumini Kabir Usman, challenged the religious leaders to avoid tendentious and partisanship sermons in order to ensure harmonious co-existence in the state.
According to him, lack of unity and religious tolerance is fuelling banditry, kidnapping and insurgency bedeviling the North.