• Presidency replies northern elders, rules out Buhari’s resignation, blames past govts
The House of Representatives has condemned the rising insecurity in the country, especially the recent killings in Benue, Taraba and Plateau states.
The lawmakers, who stated this at the plenary on Wednesday, demanded the removal of the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (retd.) and the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (retd.).
The legislators also alleged that security agents were aiding bandits and other criminals, adding that huge security funds were not being justified.
They also alleged that the security chiefs were benefitting from insecurity in the country because of the huge funds being allocated to the defence sector.
On Sunday, no fewer than 70 people were killed when gunmen attacked Kanam and Wase communities in Plateau State.
On Monday, 25 people were killed in Guma and Tiortyu local government areas of Benue State.
Disturbed by the killings, the Chairman of the House Committee on Navy, Yusuf Gagdi, moved a motion of urgent public importance titled ‘Terrorist Attacks on Kanam and Wase Communities of Plateau State,’ while Messrs Bem Mzondu and John Dyegh moved a separate motion of urgent public importance on killings in Benue State.
Gagdi noted that the first responsibility of any government was the security of lives and the welfare of the people.
He stated, “Nigerians are being killed on a daily basis. We have a President. We have governors. We have the National Assembly, we have Senators and Representatives put together. Who is responsible for the safety and security of lives and property of the people of this country? Of course, without any fear of political misrepresentation, it is Mr President.
“Is our President aware of what is happening to the people of this country? Is he holding the strategic operational commanders responsible for the failure in the protection of lives and property of the people of this country?
Gagdi further lamented that the National Assembly had kept appropriating more funds for the security forces, while nobody was held accountable for the growing insecurity in the nation.
A soldier who was supposed to be in Zamfara was giving uniform to bandits in Plateau -Deputy Speaker
The Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, who presided over the session, alleged that some personnel of the military and paramilitary agencies were aiding and abetting criminals.
The Deputy Speaker said there was an early warning about the attacks on Plateau communities, which he raised on the floor of the House via a motion and which was debated by the lawmakers.
He said, “I have visited where I am not supposed to go because I believe I have the responsibility as a leader to go and make a case and present – write letters – informing these security agencies of what is going on in the area. In my own village alone, 32 houses are housing displaced persons. My primary school has been taken over.”
Wase said it had been discovered that more attacks were recorded in communities with higher economic potential especially where there were natural resources.
He faulted figures being quoted as the number of those killed, noting that there had been mass burials while bodies were being picked from the forests.
Wase said, “In my own community, we had a soldier who was supposed to be in Zamfara given a pass consecutively for six months. He was arrested (for) giving uniforms to the bandits. Till this moment, he has not been ‘court-martialed’. If his station was in Zamfara and he was found in Plateau at the same time, who was giving him the pass and what is their interest in giving a security agent a six-month pass?
“Another one was arrested from the same community with ammunition. Until this moment, I don’t know… Even when we raised the motion, it was sufficient for the security (agencies) to act but they were adamant.
“Among the people that were arrested were their (attackers’) informants and collaborators. One was communicating with them (community) from the detention camp and telling them (the people) that he was going to go out. At the end of the day, he got out. When he got out, his wife was arrested with drugs.”
Security chiefs benefiting from insecurity, Rep alleges
Another lawmaker, Fatuhu Mohammed, alleged that those in charge of the security outfits in the country were benefitting from the crises. He also stated that while Buhari, as the President of Nigeria, should be held responsible, “we have to look at our structural problem.”
Mohammed, while calling for better oversight by the National Assembly, stated, “When it is appropriation period, we don’t take things very seriously.” He added, “These people will come and present their budgets and move on and we give money to them. There is no oversight. How do you expect us to checkmate them?”
The lawmaker alleged, “It is business. They know there is no military coup. The only way they can make money is through this. How will they want the security issues to end? I don’t understand what is happening in this country.”
Commenting, Chairman of the House Committee on Police Affairs, Usman Kumo, on his part called for the removal of the NSA and the defence minister.
He stated, “If the President means well for this country, and if we are really trying to look for a solution, he has to immediately sack the National Security Adviser. Two, he has to remove his Minister of Defence.”
The Presidency on Wednesday in Abuja said calls for the resignation of the President would not solve the security problems facing the country.
The Northern Elders’ Forum had on Tuesday called for Buhari’s resignation.
But in the statement signed late Tuesday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the Presidency said “It is enough to say from our part, that resignation call on of the President is not a solution to the security problems facing the country, something that has built up to a worrisome level following decades of neglect.”
In the statement titled ‘Reforms in internal security to take hold sooner than later,’ the Presidency argued that the security challenges which predated the Buhari regime had built up to a worrisome level following decades of neglect.
It read in part “It is enough to say from our part, that resignation call on of the President is not a solution to the security problems facing the country, something that has built up to a worrisome level following decades of neglect.”
Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria (Youth Wing) said on Wednesday that the Federal Government should work with those who claimed to know the terrorists, bandits and their hideouts to identify and arrest the criminals breaching the peace and security of the country
YOWICAN made the submissions in a communiqué signed by its chairman, Belusochukwu Enwere and Secretary, Bako Elijah, at the end of its National Executive Council meeting which held in Abuja.
Also, the Christian Elders Forum of Northern States, Kaduna State chapter, decried the incessant killings and destruction of property going on in different parts of the country.
A statement by the state Chairman of the forum, Garba Asandu, stated, “Current happenings in our great country, Nigeria, have forced us to come out with words of sympathy, empathy, encouragement, advice, and caution as elders and leaders in our communities. The high rate of insecurity in our country, and particularly Kaduna state, is very condemnable by all right thinking people.”
Also, the Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Elders Forum of Northern decried the incessant killings and destruction of property across the country.
In a statement by NOSCEF’s state chairman, Elder Garba Asandu, r in Kaduna on Wednesday, the group stated, “Current happenings in our great country, Nigeria has forced us to come out with words of sympathy, empathy, encouragement, advice, and caution as elders and leaders in our communities.”
Meanwhile, armed gunmen have been reported to have killed no fewer than 150 people in a series of attacks on four villages in northern Plateau State.
According to a Yahoo News report on Wednesday, bandits invaded several villages during the weekend, razed down a number of houses and shot at residents trying to flee.
Villagers have been scouring bushes and other terrain for missing loved ones since the Sunday attacks.
Ebonyi attack: We lost over 26 persons, say indigenes
The People of Effium/Ezza-Effium community in the Ohaukwu and part of Ebonyi Local Government Areas of Ebonyi State, were last week thrown into mourning, following the unfortunate invasion of the affected communities by suspected assailants, in the area.
Recall that The PUNCH had reported a preliminary report on the ugly incident, on Tuesday.
The attack claimed more than 26 lives and destroyed 17 houses in the early hours of Sunday.
The affected villages included Ohagelede, Umuezeoka, Ebbiaji and Ebbeta, all in Ezza/Effium and part of Ebonyi Local Government Areas of the state.
During an unscheduled visit to the affected villages, people were seen in groups mourning their beloved family members who were killed during the attack while others were busy relocating members of their families, including properties for fear of further attacks by the suspected assailants.
According to an eyewitness, Chief Daniel Nwanga from Umuezeoka village, the incident happened in the early hours of the penultimate day, at Ezza villages of Ohagelede, Umuezeoka, Ebbeta and part of Ebonyi Local Government Areas, from where the alleged assailants invaded the community.
The gunmen allegedly massacred over 26 persons and destroyed 17 houses in the area.
Nwanga stated that government ordered a ceasefire since two weeks ago, which they obeyed, but that they never knew that their enemies would come to launch another attack against them.
“In the past three weeks, government has ordered a ceasefire in this community and we agreed to obey, because we don’t disobey any order from government.
“The assailants came in hundreds from Ogbabruagu village and killed four there; another four at Ebiaji; another four at Ogbaenyigwe and came to Ebbeta and killed six.
“They went to Izzi-speaking area to trace our people and also killed eight there and burnt more than seventeen houses.
“The incident happened yesterday (Sunday) around 6am and kept operating till 2:00pm. We called Army people from Nweke Ndiagu but before they came, the gunmen had already left.
“We counted 26 dead bodies. Government should know that we are law-abiding citizens and should know those who committed this atrocities and those sponsoring them should be arrested and prosecuted,” he said.
Also speaking, Mr Moses Nwafor from Ebbeta whose wife, stepmother, grandson and younger brother were killed stated that he doesn’t know that the war was still ongoing because there was a ceasefire agreement.
He lamented over the loss of four of his family members, including his wife.
“Yesterday, (last Sunday), I started hearing gunshots from afar. Those warlords from Effium came with matchets and guns; they killed my wife, my stepmother, my grandson and my younger brother.
“Their burial is ongoing now. Since this incident started, they told us to respect peace talk, which we did but never knew they will come to attack us.”
Also, Mr.Nwigwe Joseph, Uchenna Nwite, Eucharia Nwakpa amongst others lamented that they have lost almost all they had, following the attack.
“The entire village surrendered their arms in obedience to the ceasefire agreement, which Ebonyi State Government instituted but to our greatest surprise, the affected villages were invaded and many people killed.”
Reacting on the ugly incident, the Chairman of Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi state, Clement Odah condemned the attack that led to the killing and destruction of houses in Ezza/Effium and Ishieke Communities of the State.
He said he was working hard to unravel those behind the attack, so that they will face the full weight of the law and sympathized with the affected families.
In a statement he personally signed, the council boss , said, “Ohaukwu Local Government Council has received with concern, report of the unfortunate incident at Ohaogelode Village, in Ishieke Community.
“The Council condemn the incident in strong terms and reassure all that no stones will be left unturned to unravel the true circumstances that led to such avoidable loss of lives and properties.
“Council has initiated a spirited and discreet investigation to unveil the perpetrators of the act and ensure that justice is done. Our heartfelt sympathies go to all the affected families and our beloved brothers from Ohaogelode village.
“Council re-affirms that both Ishieke and Effium communities have lived in peace as brothers from time immemorial and this peace must not be tampered with.
“The government of Ebonyi State under our peace loving Governor has worked assiduously to restore peace in the entire Ebonyi State and all hands must be on deck to achieve the task of a peaceful Ebonyi State where love and unity reigns supreme. Once Again all parties are assured that justice must be done as a deterrence and guarantee against future reoccurrence.”