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Resurgence of killings nationwide tops NASS agenda this week

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· Security chiefs face tough screening

· Some ministerial nominees fail routine clearance

By Tunde Opalana, Tom Okpe, Haruna Salami

Amid reports of a high number of persons murdered across the country in the last week due to a resurgence of insecurity, the 10th National Assembly, NASS settles down for business this week with insecurity obviously top on the agenda.

The development is coming as the nation gears up to know who eventually made President Bola Tinubu’s ministerial nominees’ list, which will be forwarded to Senate for confirmation even as unconfirmed reports said about 60 per cent of the nominees on a purported list failed a routine security clearance.

It may pose bad news to the Presidency as the constitutional timeframe for sending the list to federal lawmakers constricts by the day.

Nonetheless, about a month into the life of the Tinubu administration, there have been pockets of security breaches across the length and breadth of the country leaving many Nigerians questioning when the country will get reprieve.

While killings of innocent persons by bandits continue in the North West states such as Zamfara and Katsina, the North Central states of Plateau, Benue are still not at ease from attacks by suspected killer herdsmen, with residents of the South Eastern states of Imo, Ebonyi, Anambra literally chained under the ‘sit at home’ siege by different groups of pro-Biafra agitators.

Miffed by these daunting challenges, the 10th Senate is reportedly seriously under pressure on how to corroborate whatever strategies the Executive arm is crafting to resolve the raging insecurity in the land.

To do this, leadership of both chambers of the National Assembly, as a matter of urgency, are set to name Chairmen and members of their standing committees, including those of Armed Forces and Security-related bodies, this week.

Dependable sources told Daily Times that the10th Assembly will give legislative approval to the security chiefs appointed by President Tinubu after ‘’critical unusually tough screening’’ by members of relevant committees.

The President has initiated the process by sending an executive communication to the House of Representatives, seeking the confirmation of the newly-appointed service chiefs.

The President’s request was contained in a letter addressed to the Speaker of the House, Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, which was read at plenary on the floor of the House last Thursday.

The service chiefs seeking to be confirmed are: Maj. Gen. Christopher G. Musa, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS); Maj. Gen. Taoreed A. Lagbaja, Chief of Army Staff (COAS); Rear Admirral Emmanuel A. Ogalla, Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) and Air Vice Marshal H. B. Abubakar, Chief of Air Staff (CAS).

According to the letter, the request is in compliance with the provisions of Section 18 (1) of the Armed Forces Act. Cap A20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

The President asked the House to act expeditiously on the request, considering the level of insecurity in the country.

Tinubu had appointed the service chiefs when both chambers of the National Assembly were on Sallah vacation.

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While Nigerians hailed the choice of the top military personnel as well as their fair, evenly-balanced geo-political zonal spread, they seriously urged the lawmakers to go beyond the ritual of ‘take a bow and go’ in screening the military top brass.

Lawmakers have also been talking tough that they will want the appointees to make categorical commitments on how to end insecurity and give a definite timeline for Nigerians to assess their performance.

At plenary last week, issues of insecurity were brought to the fore by lawmakers whose immediate constituencies were being troubled.

The Senate called on the Federal Government to address the general insecurity and incessant attacks on Plateau State and other troubled parts of the country.

This was sequel to a motion to that effect sponsored by Senator Plang Diket Satso (Plateau Central) at plenary on Tuesday.

The Senate noted the general insecurity, saying the continued attacks on communities in Plateau state, a state hitherto known for its hospitality, peace and tourism, was of great concern.

According to the upper chamber, “the past decade has seen recurrent crises across the state, especially in rural areas, where insecurity has become a major issue that any administration in the state has to contend with.

“There is no respite; the circle of killings and kidnappings has continued unabated, despite all efforts by successive administrations at the state and federal levels to tame the ugly trend.”

Speaking with journalists after plenary, Senator Satso said with his motion, service chiefs should be ready to answer critical questions during screening by the Senate as “no service chief will take a bow and go”- practice used in the past to shield nominees of the president from answering questions.

Therefore, his motion “called on the service chiefs to carry out on-the-spot assessment of insecurity in the troubled parts to give our people a sense of belonging and also serve as impetus for the military operations in those affected local government areas.”

On whether to dialogue with bandits as suggested by Ahmed Yerima Bakura, former governor of Zamfara State during his recent visit to President Tinubu, Sen. Satso said: “As I’m seated here, my house in the village was attacked twice. In the first instance, when I was contesting election for Senate, kidnappers came and kidnapped my mother, stepmother, the girl that worked for me in the house, then killed my younger brother who came out to react.’’

He disclosed that he paid ransom because he was told that if he failed to, he would have “more dead bodies to bury”. The payment led to the release of all his loved ones taken captive, the senator stated.

On punishment for such crimes, he, however, said punishment is for correction, adding that “even God knows we are not perfect and God gives us the grace to repent. When we repent, He accepts us.

“If there is genuine repentance, we should accommodate it. Sometimes, if there is true repentance from a criminal, give him a room; he might be a preacher.”

Giving the example of Paul in the Bible, the senator noted: “Paul was a killer, persecuting Christians, but he was arrested and became a perfect Christian. So, we should be able to give opportunity to people with genuine repentance.”

Also, the House of Representatives’ leadership moved to engage service chiefs, Inspector General of Police and Director General of Department of State Security (DSS) on the scourge of incessant banditry.

This was over alleged complacency of security agencies in addressing cases of banditry in Katsina state..

The resolution to engage the security chiefs followed the adoption of amendments to a motion, sponsored by Rep. Aminu Babale, representing Dustin-Ma/Kurfi constituency of Katsina State at plenary on Wednesday.

Moving the motion, Babale recalled that on June 12, 2023, the communities of Tashar Yaro, Koza, Kudewa villages, Geza, Sauyawa, Tamawa, and Maileda within Kurfi and Dutsinma local government areas of Katsina State were attacked by bandits, which resulted in injury and death of scores of innocent villagers.

He noted that “the incessant banditry activities in Kurfi, Dutsinma and other neighbouring communities in Safana and Batsari local government areas have led to regular imposition of taxes on farmers before allowing them to access their farmlands, the failure of which puts them at a risk of losing their livestock to rustlers as well as having their shops burgled by daredevil kidnappers in search of foodstuff.”

In another case, the member representing Isuikwuato/Umunneochi constituency of Abia State in the House of Representatives, Amobi Ogar, lamented that the incidence of kidnapping, banditry and other criminal activities was increasing in his area.

Ogar said people are kidnapped almost every day in his constituency to the extent that abductors now go to resident’s homes to carry them for ransom sums of N50,000 and N30,000.

The House, therefore, urged the Federal Government to initiate a coordinated joint security operation by providing aerial surveillance and other combat mission plans to flush out bandits, destroy their camps, and allow farmers across the country to return to their farmlands to ensure continuous food production.

The former Senate had organised a security summit in Abuja where it took a critical look at the nation’s security architecture and took far reaching resolutions which were forwarded to the Executive arm for implementation, with little positive results.

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