The Senate, yesterday, summoned the nation’s service chiefs for explanation over the proliferation of firearms in the country.
According to reports, the upper chamber also mandated its Committee on Intelligence and National Security to conduct thorough investigation into the development to unravel its remote and immediate causes.
The resolutions were sequel to a motion on “Proliferation of Dangerous Firearms in Nigeria’’ moved by Sen. Suleiman Hunkuyi (APC-Kaduna) during plenary.
He observed that tribal, communal, religious and other sectarian clashes, including farmers/herdsmen crisis were now more devastating.
“This is due to wrongful and easy acquisition of firearms in violation of due process as laid down by the enabling laws and regulations.
“This ugly trend has contributed to the colossal loss of lives and wanton destruction of property of Nigerian citizens.”
The lawmaker explained that the situation was attributable to the inability of the authorities to control the proliferation of firearms within country.
“The spate of unrest due to proliferation of firearms has negatively impacted on economic and agricultural activities to the extent that due to fear of attacks, law-abiding citizens fear going to the market and farms.”
In his contribution, Sen. Shehu Sani (APC-Kaduna) said the rate and frequency at which people were being killed in the country was evidence that there were more firearms than there were tractors.
“The political class are complicit in the proliferation of firearms in Nigeria,” he said, adding that stakeholders must move fast “to rescue the drift”.
Sani called for a new national political orientation where people should not see politics as a do-or-die affair, but should see it as an opportunity to serve the people.
On his part, the Leader of the Senate, Sen. Ahmad Lawan, observed that “the country is bedevilled by so much insecurity.”
He said that proliferation of illegal firearms was the major reason why there were many killings in the country.
Lawan called on the service chiefs to find a lasting solution to the issue.
In his remarks, President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, said that the issue of security in the country was the number one concern of all Nigerians.
He decried the spate of killings and the inadequate and poor response by security agencies to address the menace, and called for concerted effort to check the trend.
“People are now going about with weapons as if they are accessories,” he lamented.
In another development, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, yesterday, disclosed that a report detailing the circumstances surrounding the April 18 incident when thugs invaded the Senate chamber and made away with the mace was ready for consideration by the Ethics Committee of the Senate.
Speaking while commenting on a point of order raised by Tijjani Kaura (Zamfara-APC), he said, “Distinguished colleagues, you’ll remember that following the incidence of invasion of the senate, one of the decisions that was taken then was that the management must do a report to find out the roles that were played by all the members and what led to the invasion.
“The report has been ready and submitted. I think that report should go to the committee on ethics for them to review it and make their recommendation to us,” the Senate President said.
Kaura had called the attention of the senate to recent killings and kidnappings in his constituency, urging the senate to look into the matter.
Saraki said the appearance of the Inspector-General of Police on Wednesday will suffice to address security issues in Zamfara and other parts of Nigeria.
“Again, it is unfortunate the incident in Zamfara; which is on a daily basis. It is of great concern to us. We at the National Assembly, we must play our role to see what we can do to tackle this insecurity issue. It is unfortunate as we said last time we expected the IG here, we have given him again till Wednesday to come here so that we can truly engage and address these problems we are facing today in the country.
“We saw what happened in Kaduna State some days ago and now it is Zamfara. We will do our best despite the level of lack of cooperation but we must play our role and I can assure you that we would do something to bring a change and make this country more secure,” he said.
Meanwhile, Death toll in the weekend armed bandits’ attack on Gwaska community in Birnin-Gwari Local Government of Kaduna State has hit 58, with more bodies recovered from the town and surrounding environs.
Similarly, former governor of the state and a chieftain of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, has condemned the killings. He warned that the situation could degenerate into a breakdown of law and order should government fail to restore normalcy in the days ahead.
Makarfi lamented what he called the helplessness of the security agencies in taming the security challenges in parts of the country, even as he called for more security men and materials to tackle the menace.
Also, the Emir of Birnin-Gwari, Alhaji Zubairu Gwari, who disclosed the latest figure in a chat with PRNigeria commended the local vigilante groups and security agencies in the search and evacuation efforts, adding that more people are still missing.
The traditional ruler also appealed to members of his community to be calm and exercise patience andurged them to be more vigilant and cooperate with the security agencies towards tackling the menace of armed bandits in the area.
Meanwhile, the Kaduna State government and President Muhammadu Buhari have reacted to the dastardly attacks in Birnin-Gwari axis.
A statement by Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Samuel Aruwan, said President Buhari had approved the establishment of a permanent battalion of the Nigerian Army in the Birnin Gwari general area. The creation of a Birnin Gwari Police Area Command and two new Divisional Police Headquarters has also been announced by the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris.
Makarfi believes that government exists principally to provide security to the people; failure to rise up to this responsibility is, therefore, a recipe for anarchy, which we can ill- afford now. He said: “Governments at all level as well as agencies responsible must therefore, restore people’s confidence by doing all it takes to not only secure the area and others so afflicted, but also ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book.
In a related development, the National President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Dr. Felix Omobude, yesterday bemoaned the spate of violence in the country, adding that Nigeria was “degenerating into a failed state.”
Omobude lamented that the killing of unsuspecting Nigerians by armed herdsmen and other criminals had gone on, such that it had become a daily affair.
The PFN President spoke during an interview with journalists in Benin, the Edo State capital.
He said: “There is hardly any day that you do not hear of bloodshed, killings, either by Boko Haram through suicide bombing, or herdsmen killings across the country.
“The PFN is worried as Nigeria is degenerating into a failed state.
“Whereas we have a government in office, it appears that this situation is overwhelming our security forces.”
The cleric, who is also the founder of the New Covenant Gospel Church, called on government at various levels to ensure the safety and security of Nigerians, irrespective of their tribes or religions.
“We hold the current administration to their campaign promises of change for the better.
We call on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and his government and the ruling party to take a look at the promises made to Nigerians and make every effort to fulfill them,” Omobude added.
The PFN president faulted the claim by President Muhammadu Buhari that those responsible for the killings were not herdsmen but fighters who had infiltrated the country from outside.
He also described the suspected herdsmen responsible for the killings in the country as terrorists.
Omobude said: “We are amazed that our President can announce that in the UK and US and has not said it at home.
“But even if that was the truth, if someone is using my name to perpetrate evil, I should fight it and stop him from doing so.
“So, if these people (herdsmen) are coming from outside, it is the government’s responsibility to check the borders and fish them out. It is not my responsibility. It (government) should do the needful.
“Honestly, whatever language you use to describe their activity, it all points to terrorism.
“People go out and say that they are cattle rearers, only to bring out AK-47 rifles, kill owners of farms, rape their wives and disappear into the thin air. So, it is terrorism.”
The cleric, therefore, called on President Buhari to take urgent steps in addressing the insecurity in the country.
When asked if the President had not done enough to check the state insecurity, the PFN president said, “I will leave that to Nigerians to decide.
“What the PFN is saying is that it is the responsibility of government to safeguard the people. So, if it were enough, we would not have been crying.
“The cry is all over the place, across party lines. When we are dealing with this issue, we should not be thinking about parties.
“We want it stopped; it does not really matter to us which party is ruling. We want good government. We want peace and security for all Nigerians.”
In an another development, President Muhammadu Buhari, Monday, said he was embarrassed by the invasion of the Senate by suspected hoodlums, who made away with the mace, which is the symbol of authority of the upper chambers, adding that proper investigation would be carried out to fish out those behind the invasion.
This came as the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, told President Buhari to call the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Mr Ibrahim Idris, to order and compel him to obey the laws of the land.
They also described the arraignment of the Senator Dino Melaye, representing Kogi West, on wheelchair by the police as barbaric and uncivilised, saying it did not give a good image to the nation’s democracy.
Southern Govs Back Wike, Insist On VAT Collection …A’Court Urges Rivers To Submit Written Application For Receiver
Southern Governors met in Enugu, yesterday, and declared their support for Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, insisting that it is within their purview to collect the Value Added Tax (VAT).
This is coming amid row between the Rivers State Government and the Federal Government, a case that is now subject of litigation.
The governors also reaffirmed their stand on open-grazing ban, urging every state in the region to quickly pass a law to that regards.
The resolution by the Southern Governors Forum is part of the six-point communique reached at its meeting at the Government House, Enugu, Enugu State, and read by Chairman of the Forum and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN.
The meeting of the Southern Governors Forum, which reviewed the state of the nation and the progress of the implementation of the decisions reached in its previous meetings, expressed satisfaction with the rate at which the states in Southern Nigeria were enacting and amending the anti-open grazing laws which allowed a uniform template and aspiration of Southern Governors, and encouraged the states that were yet to enact the law to do so expeditiously.
Reading the communique after the closed door meeting to journalists, Akeredolu said that the meeting reiterated its earlier position that the next President of Nigeria most come from the southern part of Nigeria, in line with politics of equity, justice and fairness.
According to the communique, the Southern Governors agreed to encourage the full operationalization of already agreed regional security outfit which will meet, share intelligence and collaborate to ensure the security and safety of the region.
Akeredolu opined that the meeting also reaffirmed its earlier commitment to stick to fiscal federalism as resolved at the inaugural meeting of the forum held on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, at Asaba, Delta State, and emphasize the need for the Southern States to leverage the legislative competence of their respective state Houses of Assembly, as well as representation in the National Assembly to pursue its inclusion in the Nigerian Constitution, through the ongoing constitutional amendment.
The communiqué, according to the forum’s chairman, expressed satisfaction with the array of issues around the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and ownership of NNPC by the larger Nigerian Governors Forum.
The forum thanked the host Governor, IfeanyiUgwuanyi, and chose Rivers State as the next host for the Southern Governors Forum meeting in November, 2021.
Present at the meeting were Rivers StateGovernor, Chief NyesomWike; Delta StateGovernor, Dr.IfeanyiOkowa;AkwaIbom StateGovernor, Chief Emmanuel Udom; and Osun StateGovernor, IsiakaAdegboyegaOyetola.
Others were Enugu StateGovernor, IfeanyiUgwuanyi;Bayelsa StateGovernor, Senator DuoyeDiri;Lagos State Governor,BabajideSanwo-Olu; and Ogun State Governor,EngrOluwaseyiAbiodun.
The governors of Oyo, Ekiti, Edo, Imo, Abia, and Ebonyistates were represented by their deputies.
The communiqué read in full, “The Nigerian Southern Governors’ Forum at its meeting of Thursday, September 16, 2021 held in the Government House, Enuqu, Enugu State, reviewed the state or the nation and the progress of implementation of the decisions reached in her previous meetings and further resolved as follows:
“Expressed satisfaction with the rate at which the states in the Southern Nigeria are enacting or amending the Anti-Open Grazing Laws which align with the uniform template and aspiration of Southern Governors and encouraged the states that are yet to enact this law to do so expeditiously.
“Encouraged the full operationalization of already agreed regional security outfits; which would meet, share intelligence and collaborate, to ensure the security and safety of the region.
“Reaffirmed its earlier commitment to structural and fiscal federalism as resolved at the inaugural meeting of the Forum held on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at Asaba, Delta State, and emphasized the need for the Southern States to leverage the legislative competence of their respective State Houses of Assembly as well as representation in the National assembly to pursue its inclusion in the Nigerian Constitution through the ongoing constitutional amendment.
“Following from paragraph 3 above, the meeting resolved to support the position that the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the states.
“Expressed satisfaction with the handling of issues around the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and ownership of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by the larger Nigerian Governors’ Forum.
“Reiterated their earlier position that the next President of Nigeria must come from the Southern part of Nigeria in line with politics of equity, justice and fairness.
“The forum thanked the host Governor, IfeanyiUgwuanyi, and chose Rivers State as the next host for the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting in November, 2021″.
However, the Court of Appeal, yesterday, declined to accede to the request of Rivers and Lagos states for the appointment of Receiver or Manager for the purpose of collecting and keeping Value Added Taxes (VAT) in place of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) pending the resolution of all legal disputes in the matter.
The two states separately canvassed that the order of status quo ante bellum granted on September 10 in favour of FIRS to continue the collection be put on hold given the appeal already lodged at the Supreme Court against the order.
Counsel to Rivers State, IfedayoAdedipe, SAN, in his oral application, pleaded with the appellate body to exercise its power under Order 4 Rule 6 of the Court of Appeal to appoint a Receiver or Manager to take custody of the VAT in the interest of justice to parties in the matter.
The Attorney General of Lagos State, Mr MoyosoreOnigbanjo, SAN, who stood for his state, toed the path of Rivers in canvassing that the court be fair and just in the pending appeal.
Onigbanjo specifically asked the Appeal Court to restrain FIRS from further collecting the tax and replace it with a Receiver or Manager that would act for parties that are locked in the legal battle.
The Lagos Attorney General predicated his expressed fear of unjust treatment on the fact that FIRS apart from collecting the tax has been sharing it among the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) despite the pendency of the legal tussle.
“I think it is also necessary to restrain the FIRS, because they collect the VAT, distribute to all the states and keeps their own 4 per cent.
“If, at the end of the day, the court agrees with the judgment of the Federal High Court, how do we retrieve the funds that have been shared?”,Onigbanjo added.
The appeal by the FIRS is against August 9, 2021 judgment by Justice Steven Pam of the Federal High Court in Port-Harcourt, voiding the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act and holding that states could collect VAT.
Justice Haruna Simon Tsanami, who led a three-member panel, directed them to make the application formal by providing the necessary facts, including ascertaining the amount being collected as VAT.
Other members of the panel are Justices BatureGafai and Peter Affen.
Meanwhile, the court has reserved ruling on an application by Lagos State to be made a respondent in the appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
The court, after listening to arguments by lawyers to parties, yesterday, said they would be informed when the ruling was ready.
In arguing Lagos’ application, Onigbanjo (SAN) said his client was a necessary party as it would be affected by the outcome of the case.
He noted that, as a federating unit/state in Nigeria, Lagos was entitled to collect VAT by virtue of the judgment of the Federal High Court that annulled VAT Act.
Onigbanjo argued that even the appellant (the FIRS) recognised that Lagos State has an interest in the case, which he said, was evident in the affidavit it filed, wherein copious reference was made to the Lagos State Government.
He further argued that since FIRS, in an affidavit supporting its application for stay of the judgment, recognised the interest of the Lagos State Government in the case, “it cannot now turn around to say the Lagos State Government has no interest in this case and should not be joined. It cannot blow hot and cold or speak from both sides of its mouth.”
Onigbanjo also contended that it was unfair for the FIRS to oppose Lagos’ request to be heard in the case after making allegations against the state.
He added that even the court recognised the interest of Lagos State in the case when it extended its order on maintenance of status quo to Lagos State, which was not yet a party in the case.
Onigbanjo prayed the court to join his client as a respondent.
Adedipe adopted Onigbaajo’s argument, and urged the court to allow the application by Lagos State.
Following the observation by Onigbanjo that the written address filed by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) was incompetent, the lawyer representing the AGF, TijaniGazali (SAN), withdrew the address, subsequent upon which the court struck it out.
Lawyer to FIRS, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), objected to the joinder application filed by Lagos State, arguing, among others, that the state was not a necessary party.
Magaji faulted the competence of the application, and urged the court to discountenance it.
On second thought, Magaji said if the court was willing to join Lagos; it should extend such indulgence to the other states of the federation.
Okonjo-Iweala Makes ‘TIME 100’
Nigerian-born Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has thanked the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, for the kind words they penned about her as she makes the TIME 100 list of The World’s Most Influential People.
The magazine has noted the globally-rated economist’s activities around the efforts to ensure that everyone on the planet earth gets vaccinated against any preventable disease for which there is a vaccine.
The ex-World Bank guru has been the Board Chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, since January 1, 2016.
Gavi has the goal of increasing access to immunization in poor countries.
Concerning the TIME entry, the Duke and the Duchess state, “What will it take to vaccinate the world? Unity, cooperation—and leaders like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala”.
“As the first African and first woman to lead the World Trade Organization, a 164-member group of nations that oversees trade across the world, Okonjo-Iweala took on the role of director-general this March at a watershed moment for our global health and well-being. Make no mistake; her job affects every person, family and community.
“As we face a constant barrage of vaccine misinformation, bureaucratic slowdowns across both government and industry, and the rise of variants that underscore the urgency of the situation, Okonjo-Iweala has shown us that to end the pandemic, we must work together to equip every nation with equitable vaccine access.
“Our conversations with her have been as informative as they are energizing. This is partly because, despite the challenges, she knows how to get things done—even between those who don’t always agree—and does so with grace and a smile that warms the coldest of rooms.
“The fragility of our world right now cannot be overstated. Just over a quarter of the nearly 8 billion global population is fully vaccinated.
“Achieving vaccine equity is a global duty of compassion for one another. Our hope is that guided by strong leaders like Ngozi, we can get there soon”, they wrote.
Relocation Of Insurgents, Wake-Up Call, CAN Warns
The Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kaduna State Chapter, Revd Joseph Hayab, has described the alleged relocation of Boko Haram leaders to Southern Kaduna as a wake-up call on people of the area.
Hayabsaid that though the news of the alleged relocation was not new, government has not done enough to protect the people.
He claimed all the calls from voices of reason appeared not to have moved both the federal and state governments to rise to the occasion.
“The relocation of Boko Haram to Southern Kaduna is not new. Who are those that have been killing people indiscriminately in that area in the last few years? The church, SOKAPU and the people have been complaining about killings in Southern Kaduna but only fell on the deaf ear of those in authority.
“Therefore, the leaked document has simply confirmed our worries and shows that more days for killings of innocent citizens are coming unless the people take personal initiative to defend their lives and land. Our government has not done enough to convince us that they want to stop the killings going on all over the area.
“Now, we were being told that there is a leaked memo about Boko Haram when those in authority have always turned deaf ears to cries of our people when we complain about killers that people see every day. Boko Haram fleeing North-East to Southern Kaduna is simply a wake-up call for the Southern Kaduna people to rise to the occasion,” he said.
A leaked DSS memo had said insurgents were relocating from Sambisa forest in BornoState to Chikun LGA in Kaduna State.
The alert was in a leaked memo marked NSCDC/NHQ/INT&INVST/323/2021, dated September 9, 2021, and signed by the Acting Deputy Commandant-General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Intelligence and Investigation, B.O. Bassey.
The DSS, therefore, asked the civil defence to be on the alert.
“It has been uncovered, plans by senior Boko Haram fighter, Ibrahim (FNU) alongside his foot soldiers relocating from ‘Sambisa Forest in Borno State to Rijana Forest in ChikunLocal Government Area of Kaduna State with a view to joining their counterpart under the leadership of one AdamuYunusu (aka Saddiqu).
“In light of the above, you are hereby directed to step up surveillance and intelligence gathering on the aforementioned areas and environs.”
Meanwhile, months after the crash involving a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) King Air 350 aircraft on May 21 at the Kaduna Civil Airport, Commissioner of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Akin Olateru, has submitted an interim report to the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Amao, at his office at NAF Headquarters, Abuja.
After the crash, the CAS directed that a joint investigative body consisting of NAF safety officers and the AIB be constituted to investigate the causes.
A joint statement by the Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, and General Manager, Public Affairs, AIB, TunjiOketunbi, revealed that at this interim stage, a total of 27 initial findings and eight safety recommendations were made for the convening authority as well as other aviation-related agencies for immediate implementation.
They further disclosed that it is expected that the final report would contain the flight data recorder readout, the reviewed operator’s and service provider’s standard operating procedures as well as other detailed analyses.
While receiving the report, the CAS reiterated the main essence of activating the ‘joint investigative’ clause contained in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the NAF and the AIB on July 1, 2020.
He said successful collaboration is a clear indication of the potency of collaboration in aircraft accident investigation, which must be encouraged.
Similarly, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has blamed Almajiri system in the North for the increasing cases of banditry, kidnapping, terrorism and armed robbery in the country.
The Chairman of CAN in Imo State, Rev. Eches Divine Eches, stated this in an interview with journalists in Abuja, ahead of the organisation’s 45th anniversary and Founder’s Day billed to hold today in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
According to him, banditry and kidnapping are increasing because the authorities have failed to pay more attention to the critical factors behind the widespread insecurity in the country.
Eches also expressed concern over Sheikh Ahmed Gumi’s links with the bandits terrorising the North-West region and the alleged helplessness of the government to arrest and caution him for his many ‘unguarded utterances’ about their activities.
He said, “You can’t have Almajiri system of life and government in the last 40 years in our nation bringing up people without any trace to families, hometowns or nationalities.
“They are scattered all over the street, without you knowing that someday they will leave the street and go to the bush where they will begin to do the trade of kidnapping.
“Also, you can’t, in any sane nation, have the likes of Gumi, a religious scholar, going about promoting banditry and you don’t think that this will continue. Yet, that is what we are seeing today. We are not seeing anything more than what we have planted.
“We allowed this thing (insecurity) to continue and it is now going to consume the nation, if drastic measures are not put in place to take them (Almajiri) out of the streets, give them a sense of belonging, put them in school, and help them realise their potentials.
“These bandits we find today were the Almajiri who used to be in front of our houses and begging for food.
“We are praying and that is why God is still sustaining our nation. I trust God will continue to sustain us in Jesus name.”
On CAN’s 45th anniversary of its Founder’s Day, Eches said the programme was necessary to remember the labour of past heroes, including over 250 retired church leaders and indigent youth and women who were weak.
“They retired church leaders laboured to bring to bear what we are enjoying and working on today.
“We thought it very necessary to remember the weak among us as most of them are passing through terrible times, especially in such a time as this in our nation.
“So, we thought it very important that we will use this 45th anniversary of our Founders’ Day to celebrate such a people and remember their labours, and say to them ‘you deserve to be celebrated’ both by cash and gift,” he said.
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