The Senate yesterday decried the spate of violence in the country and urged the Federal Government to deploy security agencies to Kogi to forestall alleged killing of people by suspected herdsmen.
Specifically, the upper chamber said that the security machinery should be sent to Omale and Dekina Local Government Areas in the state.
The resolution followed the adoption of a Point of Order by Sen. Atai Aidoko (Kogi-West) at plenary over alleged killing of 32 persons in the two local government areas on Wednesday.
Raising the order, Adoko said that 20 people were killed in Ogane-Enugu community in Dekina while 12 other lives were lost in Agbejukolo and Agbenema communities in Omale local government area.
He said “in spite of continued condemnation of killings in many parts of the country, perpetrators of this dastardly act have not been arrested.
“I want this Senate to urge President Muhammadu Buhari to direct security agencies to bring the situation under control by arresting the perpetrators and ensure that they are prosecuted.
“This killing is taking another dimension as the killers also amputate people’s hands.’’
In his contribution, Leader of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, said that it was time that the chamber worked closely with the Executive to enhance the effectiveness of security agencies in combating crime the country.
Noting that security agencies in the country were overstretched, Lawan expressed worry that the number of policemen guarding the communities was inadequate.
According to him, in a population of about five million, you have only 300 policemen guarding the society, and in the same situation, over 300 bandits would attack the people.
On his part, Sen. Dino Melaye urged government at all tiers to demonstrate needed capacity to combat insecurity.
“We are still treating the issue of security with kid gloves. If you see the gory pictures of people that are maimed and we cannot show capacity; do we want to continue complaining?
“It is the poor that is dying. Let us for once call on the president and the governors of these respective states who are the chief security officers to ensure the protection of lives and property of citizens.
“The Federal Government must display capacity to sincerely quell the insecurity threatening the country. “Unfortunately, since the incidents happened in Kogi, the state government has not come up with any official statement or taken an action,’’
Melaye said. Sen. James Manager blamed the situation on non-arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators. According to him, society has evolved and there is law and order; when somebody who commits a crime is caught, he should be punished to serve as deterrent to others.
“The immediate solution to this problem is to arrest and punish offenders otherwise people will continue to kill.
“We are tired of observing one minute silence for these killings; if punishment for offenders is not done, those who cannot protect the society should resign,’’
Manager said. Sen. Adamu Aliero called for the implementation of recommendations of the National Security Summit recently organised by the Senate. He said it would go a long way in addressing the security challenges confronting the country. According to him, the meeting with security agencies three weeks ago revealed that the police are overstretched and there was need to recruit more hands as well as increase the funding.
In his remark, President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, condemned the killings and said that it was unacceptable. “The Senate would work towards finding solutions to insecurity in the country. “Let us be patriotic because this situation is unacceptable,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Persons suspected to be Fulani herdsmen have unleashed terror on three communities in Kogi State, leaving 25 people dead.
Oganienugwu and Ikende communities in Dekina Local Government Area were affected; as well as Abejukolo in Omala LGA, all in the Eastern Senatorial district of the state.
As at the time of filing this report, villagers were reportedly moving out of Obakume, Idirisu, and Oji Apata to escape possible attacks.
Our correspondent gathered that 25 people were killed in the sustained attack which started on Tuesday and continued till Thursday.
A detachment of police and soldiers have been drafted to quell the violence.
Eye witness account told our correspondent that the mode of killing employed by the hoodlums was to slaughter the victims after tying them up; while those who attempted to escape alleged received machete cuts.
Similarly, Governor Samuel Ortom has called for a halt to the ceaseless bloodshed in Benue state occasioned by attacks on rural communities of the state by herdsmen lamenting that the bloodbath had become too much.
The Governor spoke yesterday during a state funeral service in honour of the 26 victims of March 5 herdsmen attacks on Omusu community, Ojigo Edumoga held at St. Bernard Primary School Ugwu-Okpoga in Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue state, amid wailings, cries and tears.
He reiterated his call for the arrest of the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore whom he said were the sponsors of the killings in the state based on comments credited to them and published by various media houses.
The Governor while consoling the bereaved families said “the death of the victims and many others would put an end to the massacre of Benue people.
“I will also add that the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law of Benue state has come to stay because it is the panacea to the farmers/herders crisis in this country.
“Moreover there is no land for open grazing to take place in our communities and at the same time have crop farming to go on concurrently.”
Governor Ortom who assured of his government’s quick response to every security issue in the state, disclosed that data was being gathered for the compensation of those who suffered losses and damages during herdsmen incursions in the state.
In separate remarks, his Deputy Governor, Mr. Benson Abounu Deputy Speaker of the State Assembly, Mr. James Okefe, representative of of the Otukpo Catholic Bishop Apochi, Rev. Fr. John Attah among others who commended the Governor for his support to the bereaved families urged the people of the state to remain resolute in their support for the grazing law.
On their part, the ethnic leaders of the state, represented by Mr. Amalia Amali and the representative of Movement Against Fulani Occupation, MAFO, Pastor Dave Ogbole both said they saw the attacks coming and reported same to relevant authorities but nothing was done to avert the massacre.
While expressing disappointment with the federal government over its inactions towards the killings, Pastor Ogbole called on the international community to rise up and stop a repeat of Rwanda in Nigeria, warning that the resolve by Benue people to remain law abiding should not be mistaken for cowardice.
In a sermon, Chairman Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Benue state chapter, Rev. Akpen Leva prayed God to intervene and save the state from herdsmen incursions and further bloodshed.
PDP Inaugurates 15 Convention Sub-Committees –
Wike Chairs Special Duties Committee
6,000 Delegates Expected To Attend
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) National Convention Committee, yesterday, in Abuja inaugurated 15 sub-committees for its national convention scheduled for October 30.
The sub-committees as read by the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Duoye Diri, include the National Convention Organizing Committee, chaired by Adamawa State Governor, Hon Ahmadu Fintiri.
Others are Constitutional Amendment Committee, chaired by Akwa lbom Governor, Udom Emmanuel; Zoning Committee chaired by Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Screening Committee, chaired by former Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke.
Sub-committees and their chairmen also inaugurated were Screening Appeal Committee chaired by Senator Ike Ekweremadu; Special Duties Committee chaired by Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike; Accreditation Committee chaired by Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa; and Security Committee chaired by former Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase.
The Electoral (Statutory) Committee, with Adamawa Governor, Hon Ahmadu Fintiri as the chairman; Publicity Committee chaired by Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki; and Venue Committee, chaired by Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed are also among them.
Others include: Welfare and Entertainment Committee with Mariya Waziri as chairperson; Transportation Committee, with Ibrahim Dankwambo as chairman; and Contact and Mobilization Committee with Taraba Governor, Darius Ishaku as chairman.
The rest are, Protocol Committee with Sen. Biodun Olujimi as chairperson; Medical Committee — Nuhu Zagbayi; and Secretariat Committee — Umaru Ibrahim Tsauri.
Inaugurating the sub-committees, Fintiri expressed belief that the October convention would be successful and lead PDP to victory in 2023.
Fintiri said that the leaders and members of the sub-committees were carefully selected to organize a credible convention for the party.
The Adamawa governor urged them to make the necessary sacrifices to deliver the best convention to the party.
Fintiri, fielding questions from newsmen after the inauguration, said that by PDP’s new constitution, over 6,000 delegates were expected at the convention.
“We are fully prepared for that. We are expecting everybody in every ward that is a delegate to attend the convention.”
He said that the sub-committees had been given directions and they were expected to go back, adequately prepare and submit their report to the main committee for approval.
On which part of the party’s Constitution would be amended, Fintiri said he could not pre-empt the Constitution Sub-Committee, but allow them do their job.
On how far the zoning committee had gone after the one-week appeal he gave them, last week, Fintiri said the committee was in a meeting in Enugu carrying out its responsibilities.
“You can see the party is working, and it is a turning point for all of us,” Fintiri said.
According to him, the leadership tussle in the party has largely been addressed even as he came short of saying the PDP has moved on from the crisis.
He said, “We are moving on. I am the chairman of the convention committee and you can see that we are doing our work. Everybody is happy and participating. I don’t see any crisis in this party.”
The party’s national elective convention is slated for October 30 and 31 this year in Abuja.
RSG Recommits To Building Agric Sector
The Rivers State Government has said that it was committed to building the agricultural sector and utilise the huge potentials the state has for the benefit of Rivers people.
The state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, stated this while speaking at a seminar of the Norwegian Seafood Council at Hotel Presidential in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Represented by his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, Wike said, “In the face of dwindling oil prices, and the need to diversify the economy, we see a lot of potentials in the seafood industry especially post Covid-19. This is an important industry for creating employment opportunities, generate revenue and boost economic activities in our area”.
Wike, who said that Rivers State was one of the coastal states in the Niger Delta endowed with valuable seafood resources, revealed that Norway and Nigeria have had a long history of relationship and trade.
According to the governor, “Rivers State, known as the oil and gas hub of Nigeria, is open to do business in all sectors including maritime and welcome more partnerships and investments from stakeholders who wish to do business in the state”.
Wike further said, “In the effort to grow our economy, the Government of Rivers State supports making laws that work for us all, by putting laws in place to improve society’s efficiency. Hence, the assent and signing of the VAT law”.
The Rivers State chief executive, who commended the Norwegian Seafood Council for conducting the seminar in the state, stressed that stock fish was enjoyed across Rivers State by all groups, including low and high earners, while both men and women are involved in the sales in our markets.
“I believe this seminar will examine the many advantages and gains of seafood as well as anticipated support from the Norwegian Embassy in the areas of encouraging deep sea fishing, trawlers, good storage for sea products, training to grow and nurture fish production standard, fish ponds and open fish farms, use of technology and encouragement, support to artisan farmers.
“We believe that the gains for removing stock fish and stock fish heads from the list of items not valid for the FX windows far outweigh the losses if any.
“For all the reasons stated above and many more, we anticipate Federal Government and the CBN’s removal of stock fish and stock fish heads from the list of items not valid for the Central Bank of Nigeria FX window”, Wike further stressed.
In his remarks, the Ambassador Royal Norwegian Embassy, Knut Lein, who described the history of stock fish in Nigeria and Norway as fascinating, said it creates a bond between both countries, and expressed the desire to foster increased cooperation, build on bilateral relations and inform the government of Norway about the opportunities in the country.
He said, “together we could create lots of jobs”, insisting that “doing what we can to promote stock fish trade was a win-win for all of us”.
Highlights of the occasion were the presentation of papers by the Director Africa, Norwegian Seafood Council, Mr. Trond Kostveit, and other stakeholders.
The Norwegian Ambassador, Mr. Knut Lein, had earlier paid a courtesy call on Governor Nyesom Wike, at the Government House in Port Harcourt, where the state chief executive expressed the state government’s desire to continue to partner with the Norwegian Embassy to facilitate economy growth and development of both countries, and the state in particular.
Encourage States To Harness Own Resources For Dev, Wike Tasks FG
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said Nigeria must encourage federating states to harness their resources and generate revenues, including Value Added Tax (VAT) to advance their development.
He also stressed that it was baffling to note that Rivers State was not included among states to benefit from any of the projects to be executed with the fresh loan that the Federal Government was seeking to obtain from the World Bank.
Wike made the observation when the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, led a delegation to present letter of nomination to him as the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award at Government House, Port Harcourt, last Monday.
The Rivers State governor observed that there were mounted attempts to frustrate federating states like Rivers, to actualise the constitutional provisions that empower them to harness their resources and revenues, particularly VAT.
The governor decried the situation where the legality of states collecting VAT was not considered on the merit of the law by some public commentators, including state executives, rather, they were politicising it and looking at it from prism of ethnicity and religion.
According to Wike, what the FIRS was doing was illegal, and could be likened to robbing some states to pay others.
“You don’t even need to be a lawyer to know that VAT is not in Items 58 and 59 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended. Everybody knows that. It is not even in the Concurrent List. Therefore, it falls under the Residual List. It is not arguable. That yesterday, nothing happened, does not mean that today, nothing will happen or tomorrow, something will not happen.
“Nigeria should encourage states to be strong enough to have resources to develop themselves. We are in a federal system where we are practicing unitary system. Everybody at the end of the month will run to Abuja to share money. Nobody comes back to the state to think, how do I develop my state.”
He explained that the contest against the collection of Valued Added Tax (VAT) was started by Lagos State, which had sued the Federal Government at the Supreme Court.
According to him, Rivers State only avoided their pitfall by suing the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), which is an agency of the Federal Government that was illegally collecting the tax in the state.
“The issue of VAT did not start from Rivers State. It started in Lagos State when Lagos State challenged it in Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court said you (Lagos) shouldn’t have sued the Federal Government. All you would have done was to sue the agency.”
The governor observed that rather than commend Rivers State Government for seeking to entrench fiscal federalism and constitutionalism, a particular state governor had threatened that the judgement of the court that declared that states, and not FIRS, are entitled to collect VAT within their jurisdiction, will not stand.
He urged those demanding for a brothers’ keeper consideration to first, appreciate the position of the law and situate it rightly.
“Some people say, ‘be your brother’s keeper’. I have no problem in being my brother’s keeper, but why not come out and say, let us tell ourselves the simple truth: as it is provided in the law, who is the person responsible to collect the VAT?
“When you agree to that, that it is the state, then, we can sit down to look at the different problems of states. And not to say ‘be your brother’s keeper’ while you’re doing an illegal thing, in disobeying what the law says you should not do.”
Wike stated that it was sheer act of discrimination for the Federal Government not to include Rivers State as one of the states that will benefit from projects for which it was seeking fresh foreign loans to execute.
“Look at the money that Federal Government has gone to borrow from the World Bank. Of all the projects, in all the states, Federal Government did not include Rivers State.
“Look at the list of projects that states will benefit from this money they’re borrowing from the World Bank that they have sent to National Assembly for approval, the only state that is not benefitting is Rivers State”.
He further noted, “It is the prerogative of Mr President; if he says he does not like Rivers State, if the ruling party says they don’t like Rivers State, I won’t kill myself. But leave the one that the law says I should be the one to collect so that I will be able to develop my own state.”
Speaking further, Wike explained that beyond the provision of infrastructure, his administration was seeking a law that would provide comfortable accommodation for judicial officers on retirement.
The reason, he said, was to ensure that, while in service, the judicial officers can concentrate on their jobs without cutting corners, and avoid corrupt practices.
In his remarks, the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, said the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award was the flagship of award the company.
According to him, Wike was unanimously selected for his remarkable contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria and promotion of fiscal federalism with his position on VAT, which would help in the restructuring of Nigeria.
“Today, His Excellency has guided Nigeria to true federalism with the issue of VAT. Knowing what fiscal federalism should be, His Excellency went to court to challenge the collection of VAT, and the court stated that actually the states should collect VAT. And that is laying the foundation for true federalism and fiscal federalism”, he said.
Ukeh commended Wike for his sterling performance in office and infrastructural revolution taking place in Rivers State.
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