Charles Nwoke, Abuja, Nigeria
Nigeria Senate has requested President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately declare bandits as terrorist group and wage a full blown war against them.
The parliamentarians equally asked the president to urgently declare all known kingpins of the bandits wanted, and track them wherever they are for arrest and prosecution.
They urged Buhari to order the military “to eliminate them by bombing their hideouts.”
These are some of the resolutions reached by lawmakers on Wednesday after a plenary deliberation on a motion on the activities of bandits in Sokoto State, sponsored by Ibrahim Gobir (APC, Sokoto East Senatorial District).
This motion comes barely a day after we reported to you that bandits killed no fewer than 20 persons and kidnapped others in Gatawa, a village in Sabon Birni Local Government Area of the state.
The community was perceived to be among the few villages lucky to be secure in the state ravaged by bandits.
The attack also came barely 24 hours after another one in Gangara, in the same Local Government Area.
Senator Gobir, in his motion, complained that his senatorial district has now become a haven for bandits, following a crackdown on them by the military in Zamfara State while he made reference to Tuesday’s ambush.
He said, “This has gone to portray the seriousness of the problem which require concerted and urgent action by the declaration of total war on banditry.
“Losing such numbers of trained security personnel will further deplete the numerical strength of the security personnel we have in the country, therefore jeopardising the security architecture of the country.
“Most of the bandits have now relocated to Sabon Bimini and Isa local Government due to the sustained military operation at the Zamfara axis.”
The lawmaker said while the onslaughts against the bandits was ongoing in Zamfara State, “no concrete measures have so far been taken in Sokoto State, leaving it totally exposed to the activities of bandits”.
He said the current military aggression on the bandits, is not well organized because it is only being carried out in Zamfara State, instead of all the frontline states bedeviled by the bandits menace.
He called on the military to carry out operations on frontline states such as Sokoto, Katsina, Niger and Kaduna in order to produce effective results.
Senator Uche Ekwunife (PDP, Anambra), contributing to the motion, said focus should not be on the South-East geopolitical zone alone.
She also stated that it is time for President Buhari to address the nation on the state of insecurity in the country “as his silence has been discouraging”.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, on the other hand, appreciated the efforts of the armed forces in the continuous fight against insecurity in the country, he called for increased funding for the military.
He charged relevant committees of the National Assembly on security to ensure that funds appropriated to the armed forces are judiciously applied for the purpose for which they are budgeted for.
He said, “I think the issue of insecurity is one issue we will never get tired of debating here, and we must commend our armed forces and other security agencies.
“They give their lives in trying to secure this country, and that is the ultimate sacrifice anybody could pay.
“I believe that they are doing their best, but we also need to do our best as a government by giving them the kind of resources that they need. I believe we have done that in the supplementary budget as pointed out, but we also need to improve the annual appropriation for them.
“If we could pass over N800 billion in the supplementary budget, I don’t see why we cannot improve the resources up to N1 trillion and then hold our security agencies accountable.
“I believe that we need to monitor the procurement processes when we give such kind of resources to our Armed Forces.”
The Senate later, directed the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and other sister agencies to give all the necessary support to the victims of bandits in Sokoto and other parts of the country facing different security challenges.
The Senate had on several occasions in the last two years demanded that the federal government should tackle the persistent security problems being encountered in almost every part of the country.
The Senate also observed a minute silence for the repose of the slain victims.