Benue massacre: Senate summons Buhari to address NASS joint session

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*Buhari (inset), the senate

As armed herdsmen attack communities in Benue State ceaselessly, killing people and razing houses, the senate today resolved to align with the House of Representatives and summon President Muhammadu Buhari to address a joint session of the national assembly.

The president will also address the lawmakers on the spate of killings in Taraba, Plateau, Adamawa and some other states.

Consequently, the senate will liase with the House to agree on a date for the president’s address.

The resolution comes a day after the House had summoned the president on the same issue.

The senate’s resolution was sequel to a motion by Senator George Akume, APC, North West and entitled ‘Continued Killings in Benue State.”

In his presentation, Akume said the senate “notes with dismay, the continued killings, maiming and wanton destruction of lives and property in Benue State, particularly Benue North West Senatorial District which comprises of seven local governments: Logo and Kwande local governments in Benue North East Senatorial District, Agatu and Okpokwu local governments in Benue South Senatorial District; “notes that these killings have continued unabated since January 2018; aware that as a consequence, the federal government through the Nigerian Army, embarked on a military exercise code named Ayem A’ Kpatuma, or Cat Race; “notes that this exercise was intended to curb and curtail these killings and destruction in Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba and Kogi States.”

The motion opened the floodgate of lamentations on Tuesday’s killing of two Catholic priests and 18 parishioners at St. Ignatius Catholic Church, Ukpor-Mbalom, in Gwer West local government area of Benue State.

Akume said he was alarmed by the killings in his state which he said had continued unabated since January despite a military exercise code named Ayem A’ Kpatuma, or Cat Race.

He expressed worry that the latest attack on a worship centre was unprecedented and had grave implications for the security and unity of the nation.

Contributing to the motion, Jibin Barau (APC, Kano North) called on security operatives to “get their acts together and find the perpetrators” saying that the killings were not tribal or religious.

“The killings are done by people that want to destabilise the nation,” he said.

Suleiman Adokwe (PDP, Nasarawa South) said the killings are being carried out under the noses of the military and nothing was being done.

“These things are going on right in front of the army. Some of these killings happen within the distance of 20-30 minutes drive from the army bases and nothing is happening. It can be interpreted to say that the government is aware, that’s why nothing is being done.

“Now I hear that the army and Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) arrest the wrong people and ignore the criminals. Even the Fulanis are scared of the terrorists because they too are being affected,” he said.

He further called for a state of emergency in the affected states, describing it as the best way to go.

In his contribution, Mao Ohabunwa (PDP, Abia) described the happenings as one too many.

He questioned the activities of the National Intelligence Agency, Defence Intelligence Agency as well as the Military Intelligence Agency.

“What are they doing? Even animal are not regularly killed the way humans are being killed. No more value for human life. We just have to declare state of emergency.

“It takes effrontery to go to a church and slaughter priests and worshippers. Let the army go there and fight a normal war and chase these people out of the state and country,” he said.

Isa Misau (APC, Bauchi Central), however, urged the Senate to seek the cooperation of the executive, adding that “those advising the government that the security chiefs are loyal to the country and so need not be changed, are getting it wrong.

“Our security men don’t even have the idea on how to stop these killings,” he lamented.

While making reference to the recent robbery attack in Offa and mace theft last week in the Senate, he expressed disappointment that no one has been arrested.

“If you see the number of men mobilised to pick up Dino Melaye, you’ll know that it is not an issue of manpower. Why not channel this manpower to these states? Maybe they purposely don’t want to stop these killings.

“They dominate everywhere when it comes to politics but you won’t see them when it comes to real challenges. We need fresh ideas and fresh people,” he added.

Misau also called for a state of emergency.

In his remark, the senate president, Bukola Saraki, called for drastic action as he stated that the key question had not being answered.

“My concern is that just last week, we were talking about herdsmen and farmers, now it is herdsmen and religious leaders and we all know the dimension it is taking now can lead to a serious crisis in this country. It means that we need drastic action.

“The main thing is, what do we do? We can’t continue to say we are leaders…this is failure! No doubt about it, we can’t. We can’t keep calling on the same NEMA that is under investigation for some kind of misappropriation that cannot be the solution.

“It’s amazing that not even a constable or an officer has been arrested for not delivering,” he said.

The senate leader, Ahmad Lawan, thereafter, urged the Senate to take advantage of the summoning of the president by the House of Representatives so the matter “can be approached holistically.”

“I cannot understand a situation where killings of this nature will happen and there will be no arrest. Something is definitely wrong.”

It would be recalled that the House had already resolved to summon Buhari over the spate of killings in Benue State and other parts of the country.

 

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