The Senate at an extended plenary on Tuesday debated the killings by Fulani herdsmen in Benue State and other parts of Nigeria.
The lawmakers said their resolutions, which were later conveyed to President Muhammadu Buhari by the leadership of the National Assembly, were “wake-up call” to the President and the Federal Government who “must” take urgent action on the crisis before it escalates.
They also resolved that the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, “must” within 14 days arrest the herdsmen suspected to have killed over 70 persons in Benue State recently.
The debate followed the consideration and adoption of the report by the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of Security Infrastructure of Nigeria, after an investigative visit to Benue last weekend.
During the debate on the matter, which lasted about six hours, members of the Senate also spoke on restructuring of the country’s governance structure, state police and the “cattle colonies” being proposed by the Federal Government.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, in his closing remarks after the debate, asked the Federal Government to take timely and drastic steps to end the crisis.
Saraki, while hailing the panel headed by the Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, expressed condolences of the Senate to the people and government of Benue State, especially on those who lost their lives and properties to the attacks.
He said, “From the contributions by everybody today – we have taken our time, almost six hours just to deliberate on this issue – it is clear that this goes beyond religious or ethnic issues. It is a breakdown, really, of the security apparatus of the country. And it is a wake-up call that we must act now. Failure to act is an indictment on all of us.”
Saraki also made reference to the decision that the resolutions by the Senate must be conveyed to the President. He said the lawmakers appreciated Buhari’s invitation and meeting with the National Assembly’s leadership on the matter.
Several lawmakers, who spoke during the debate, identified various causes of the problem and recommended various solutions, some of which they argued over.
First to speak, Senator Barnabas Gemade, who is a member of the panel and a Benue indigene, urged security agencies to take action since Governor Samuel Ortom had claimed that the suspects were known to him (the governor) and the security agencies.
He said, “I do recall in the committee’s interactive session with the heads of security agencies in Benue State. It is at this meeting that security personnel did inform the committee that those harbouring foreign bandits were known and they had in fact compiled a list and sent it to Abuja, and that if the ‘high leadership’ requires to have the list they have sent to Abuja, heads of the Nigeria’s security organisations could be approached and they would provide that list.
“I will therefore recommend that in addition to the report by the committee, this may be one of the areas that the Senate can explore.”