Worried over the escalating security situation in the country, the House of Representatives, yesterday asked service chiefs to immediately resign their offices or be sacked by President Muhammed Buhari.
The House, in a resolution, said the Service Chiefs have not been able to address the security challenges plaguing the country since 2015 when they were appointed by the President.
On its part, the Senate called on President Buhari to, as a matter of urgency, sack the Service Chiefs, who were appointed July 2015, contending that that they have done their part and at the moment, are out of ideas and have overstayed their welcome.
Similarly, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, has described Amotekun, a South-West regional security initiative and similar regional outfits, as solutions to the raging problem of insecurity in the country.
The Reps regretted that the security top brass have adopted ineffective strategies that have failed to yield positive results.
A motion by the Chief Whip of the House, Mohammed Monguno (APC, Borno) and 14 others, asked President Buhari to sack the service chiefs if they failed to resign their positions.
Monguno, who expressed concern over the growing blood-letting from attacks by Boko Haram and the Islamic State West African Province, ISWAP, insurgents in the North-East, recalled that activities of the insurgents, were drastically reduced earlier in Borno and Yobe States, before the latest resurgence in attacks on communities.
He said, “Recently, the insurgents have forced the Nigerian Military to close traffic on the Damaturu-Maiduguri Road for some days. The Damaturu-Maiduguri Road is the only access road from Maiduguri to other parts of Nigeria.”
Abubakakar Fulata (APC, Jigawa) in his contribution, called for the withdrawal of security personnel serving in the North East and their replacement with new personnel, adding that the long stay of the security personnel has largely contributed to their inefficiency as they were tired of remaining there.
Chairman, Committee on Army, Mr Abdulrazaq Namdas (APC, Adamawa), said, the rise in attacks by Boko Haram in the North-East and increasing insecurity in across the country, was troubling, but opposed the idea of removing all the personnel currently serving in the area, saying their experience was still needed to assist those that will be sent to work there.
On his part, Francis Waive (PDP, Rivers), said the issue of insecurity in the country was general and needed to be addressed holistically and warned that every Nigerian should be concerned about what is going on in the country.
He however, asked the Service Chiefs to resign, stressing that the President should take another look at the Service Chief with a view to replacing them with fresh hands who will bring fresh ideas into the security system in the country.
Beni Lar (PDP, Plateau) argued that the North-Eastern part of the country has gradually been brought to a standstill with the resurgence in activities of Boko Haram, stressing that the lawmakers cannot sit back and watch as if nothing was happening.
Tobi Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu), said the nation needs to interrogate how it conducts the business of security in the country, questioning why the government should be investing heavily on Trader Moni when there is no money to adequately fund the security agencies.
Minority Leader, Mr Ndudi Elumelu in his contribution suggested more investment in equipment for the security agencies, stressing that there was no way you can ask a policeman to rescue you when he is poorly equipped. He said there were lots of things going on in the country which need urgent attention.
Sada Soli (APC, Katsina), argued that the President was not being told the truth about developments in the north east.
In amending the original motion, Francis Waive asked the House to demand the immediate resignation of the Service Chiefs, while some other members said the President should immediately sack them.
But the Chairman of the House Committee on Defence, Jimi Benson (APC, Lagos), said the laws allow the President to keep the Service Chiefs for as long as he wishes, but expressed concern over recent developments in the country.
He said: “The National Security Adviser is from the North East and cannot get to his village. The Chief of Army Staff is also from the North East and cannot get to his village. The Chief of Air staff too. That speaks volumes of their ability.
“But the solution lies in the hands of the President. I don’t know why he has kept them since 2015 when they were first appointed. He should decide whether to continue to keep them or not. I believe the resolution here will prick his conscience.”
The House resolved that the leadership of the House and indeed the National Assembly should hold a tripartite meeting with the President and the Service Chiefs with a view to finding lasting solution to the security challenges.
Toeing the same line, the Senators called on President Buhari to as a matter of urgency sack the Service Chiefs who were appointed July 2015 against the backdrop that they have done their part and at the moment, they are out of ideas as they have overstayed their welcome.
For six hours yesterday, the security challenges in the country was the subject of discourse by the Senators, who came to the conclusion that the security infrastructure has failed in the country and that President Buhari, should as a matter of urgency declare a national security emergency.
The Senate also summoned the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu to appear before it next Wednesday to brief them on the security challenges, architecture, methods employed so far and the way forward towards addressing the problems.
The Senate also set up a 17-member ad- hoc Committee with the Senate Leader, Senator Abdullahi Yahaya (APC, Kebbi North), as chairman, saddled with the responsibility of engaging the Security Agencies and reporting back to the Senate in two weeks time.
The committee which will also engage the National Security Adviser, Major-General Mohammed Monguno on the implementation modalities of the December 2019 national security strategies, will also engage the National Security Institute to discuss their operational structures, funding, equipment and staff disposition with a view to reviewing the national security architecture to make it more responsive in tackling the myriad security chalienges facing the nation and the people.
The committee will also produce a draft implementation modality/blueprint on the ways and means of tackling the current securty challenges for the consideration of the Senate.
Senators also called on President Buhari to as a matter of urgency sack the Service Chiefs, against the backdrop that they have done their part and at the moment, have ran out ideas as they have overstayed their welcome.
According to the Senators, the time has come for the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin; National Security Adviser, NSA, Major-General Monguno; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar and Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Marshal Ibok-Ete Ibas to give way for fresh brains to man the country’s security system.
Particularly in their remarks, Senators Betty Apiafi, Matthew Urhoghide, Emmanuel Bwacha, Binos Yaros, Elisha Abbo, Abba Moro, Olamilekan Adeola, Sani Musa, Bamidele Opayemi, Rochas Okorocha, Francis Alimikhena, among others called for the immediate sack of the security chiefs in order to give room for new ones who may have new ideas.
Also prominent during the debate was the call for State Policing, if the present security challenges must be addressed in all its ramifications because the present central security infrastructure has failed the country.
On his part, Senator Abbo who called for the sack of the Service Chiefs said, “ We have never had it bad in this country in the area of security. The Service Chiefs appointed in July 2015 and according to report by the Budget Office, from 2012 to 2014, N4.5 trillion have been received by the Military and there are grumblings within the Military and silence is no longer golden. The Service Chiefs have run out of ideas.”
There was however, a sharp division among Senators who advocated State Policing and those who kicked against it. Senators who supported the urgent need for the establishment of State Policing for effective policing in the country were Senators Olamilekan Adeola, Ibikunle Amosun, Oluremi Tinubu, Smart Adeyemi, Ibrahim Shekarau, Matthew Urhoghide, Olubunmi Adetunmbi, Tanko Al-Makura, Sandy Onor, among others.
Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo Agege; Senators Gabriel Suswam and Danjuma Goje, Adamu Aliero, and Abubakar Yusuf, kicked against the establishment of state police.
From 11.30a.m., to 4.25p.m., the Senators took time to debate on the motion entitled, “Security Challenges: Urgent need restructure, review and reorganise the current Security Architecture.”
The motion was sponsored by the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, and co-sponsored by 105 Senators.
In his contribution, Abaribe said, “When I was coming this morning, I saw the newspaper headline,“ Mr President, Commander-in-Chief expresses shock at the level of violent crime.” In other words, Mr President was expressing surprise. But in accordance to our rule 53(13), I will not go into that but I will only say, Mr President, in pidgin English, this surprise surprise me.
“You have told us that on this solemn day that we are discussing this matter, that we may not at any point be partisan and I want to tell you, Mr President, if you didn’t insist that we will not be partisan, I would have called out the presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, who when the CAN leaders complained about the killings of a priest, he turned around and said that CAN was acting like a political party.
“Now that we are talking about it here, let me hear him say that all of us are acting like a political party, when somebody is complaining about these incessant deaths in this country.
“Because we have to get to the root of this matter, I can only say one thing, those who live on propaganda will die by propaganda. It is a matter of life and death.
“Boko Haram has been defeated, Nigeria is now safer. Everything was being done to make sure that the hard work that was supposed to be done in securing Nigeria was not done because certain people did not do their work and preferred to cover the eyes of Nigerians with propaganda.
“All the time that we wasted in Nigeria trying to find all these excuses for non-performance has now come to stare us in the face. Reality is no respecter of persons; the reality is what we are facing now. Sen. Sani Musa is shouting every day that his people were being killed in Niger; we just took one from Jos, a student who was murdered in the full view of everybody with a pistol.
“And we are told that they have been defeated.”
At this point, former governor of Nasarawa state, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, then stood up to speak, countered Abaribe, asking him to retract his comment and apologize, just as he said that the debate should be approached with responsibility.
Senator Adamu said: “There is no doubting the fact that we do face security challenges in the country; anybody who says otherwise is only pretending but the fact that we have security challenges and the fact that we are in a democratic dispensation, and the fact that in the National Assembly, on the floor of this hallowed chamber, we enjoy some immunity, if, Mr President, we do not approach this debate with the level of sensibility that it demands, we shall be doing more harm than good to this issue of national security.”
Earlier in his presentation of the motion, the Senate Leader, Senator Abdullahi said that the Senate “Notes the recent upsurge of security related challenges and the devastating loss of lives, limbs and properties that it has unleashed on the nation.
“Further notes the comprehensive new national security strategy that the government adopted in December, with its very clear statement of goals, objectives and challenges that faced the nation particularly those challenges whose recent upsurge have a direct and devastating impact on the lives and safety of the people.”
In his remarks after the debate, President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan said, “We represent the people here, we must not shy away from what affects their lives. The security of our people is the issue that concerns almost every Nigerian. I think we can do better than just discussing but finding solutions to issues at stake.
“This is not something we can do alone, we must work with the executive to achieve these. The President himself has been working hard with security agencies to ensure that we protect the lives and property of our people but we have come to a point where the legislators will also intervene or we give the necessary legislation and support to the executive arm of government.”
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, has described Amotekun, a South-West regional security initiative and similar regional outfits, as solution to the insecurity in the country.
He said,: “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 in preventing crime and protecting the lives and property of those our citizens who live, work and travel through these states.
“The establishment of Amotekun, as the network is called, has met with commentary from across the country, both for and against. Too often, it has seemed to me that lost in these interactions is the hard, brutal and unavoidable fact that Amotekun 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.
“I do not know whether Amotekun or whatever iterations of it may follow represents the ultimate or perfect solution to the problem of insecurity in our country.
“The localised manifestations of insecurity across the different parts of our country, call for unique and localised approaches that take those peculiarities into account.”
He however, advised that the arrangement should abide by the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
He also lamented the killing of Pastor Lawan Andimi and a student of Plateau origin, by Boko Haram terrorists.
“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 Andimi, a good and honourable man, who through the church and in his personal capacity served the people of his community, earning their reverence and our collective gratitude. In the midst of our mourning, our hearts were broken once more by the release of a video depicting the gruesome assassination of Mr Ropvil 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,” he stated.
He warned that if not quickly addressed, the issue of insecurity will bog the country down.
“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 frontline responding to the concerns of constituents who have themselves been victimized and those who fear that the moment of their own affliction is only a matter of time and circumstance,” he said.
“Colleagues, 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.
“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. Overcoming our overwhelming national security challenges now requires of us all that we be willing to accept new approaches and consider novel ideas. 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.”