The House of Representatives has asked President Muhammad Buhari to, as a matter of national emergency, address the nation on what his administration is doing to Nigerians across the country, and do so within the next 48 hours.
According to the resolutions reached during yesterday’s plenary, areas to be highlighted in the address should include the president’s inability and that of his administration since inception to declare the killer herdsmen as terrorists.
Other areas are the inability of the armed forces under his watch to stop the reoccurring deaths of scores of innocent Nigerians annually from systematic attacks by killer herdsmen and alleged bandits and the gradual occupation of affected communities by these herdsmen despite countless assurances and statements by him promising to stop the attacks; his selective and ineffective responses to the killing of Nigerians by herdsmen especially in Benue State and his immediate measure to dislodge the killers.
Also demanded for mentioning in the address are the inability of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) under his watch to immediately provide relief materials and rehabilitation of affected communities in line with their statutory mandate in spite of the N10 billion he announced had been provided; the inability of his administration through the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) and other relevant agencies or policy initiatives to enable proper communication network provision in affected communities and evidence of complicity of traditional rulers, political detractors and recently foreign miners in the perpetration of incessant killing of Nigerians.
The resolutions posited that failure to address the people within the stipulated period of 48 hours would leave it with an impression that the president and his “administration are incapable of permanently curtailing the incessant killing of innocent Nigerians by killer herdsmen.”
Similarly, the House averred that such a scenario would mean that the president and his administration have failed in their primary constitutional responsibility of ensuring the security and welfare of the citizens of Nigeria.
The resolutions followed the adoption of a motion titled: “Resurgence of the Incessant and Annual Massacre of Innocent Nigerians Across the Country by Alleged Bandits and Killer Herdsmen, the Gradual Occupation of Affected Communities by These Attackers And The Lack of Adequate Rehabilitation and Relief Materials”, sponsored by Hon. Mark Terser Gbillah (PDP, Benue).
Gbillah, in his presentation, told his colleagues that the country was disappointed that the government and the armed forces have failed to protect the people.
“The House is disturbed by the resurgence of attacks by killer herdsmen and alleged bandits in communities in Benue, Kaduna, Zamfara and other states of the federation from January 2019 till date which has resulted in the loss of hundreds of innocent lives and displacement of thousands of Nigerians who have fled their homes and means of livelihood for fear of losing their lives.
“The brazen nature of the attacks by the herdsmen and alleged bandits who attack these communities with impunity brazenly clad in military fatigues and audibly communicating with each other in Fulani as reported by eye witness accounts from the recent attacks in Kaduna calls for concern.
“Obviously emboldened by the inability of the Nigerian armed forces to curb their activities these killers have gradually progressed from attacking remote villages at night to sacking whole towns in broad daylight displacing residents and occupying affected communities
“Disappointed at the reactive responses of the Nigerian Armed Forces to these attacks under this administration and their inability to proactively attack the publicly known location of these herdsmen or establish a permanent base at restive locations in line with globally recognized rules of engagements. In instances like the one in Benue where army agrees to move personnel in closer proximity to the troubled spots the army requests for a location with proper communication coverages which is not the responsibility of a state government and requests for the state to cater for the welfare of her personnel.
“Worried about the inability of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, under this administration to fulfil their statutory mandate of providing relief materials and rehabilitation to hapless displaced Nigerian citizens and their affected communities especially when this administration claims to have allocated N10 billion for required intervention in affected states of the federation which till date, this administration has not provided details or verifiable evidence of the actual utilization of these funds. Even a formal petition to NEMA by an elected representative of the community requesting urgent relief materials and rehabilitation has not been responded to by NEMA over one year later.
“Refuses to further condone the continuous killing of innocent Nigerians with impunity despite the plethora of motions and resolutions passed on the floor of the House and the Senate in this regard and will have no other option than to directly engage the President and Commander in Chief of the armed forces who has the primary responsibility for the security and welfare of every Nigerian citizen”, Gbillah said.
His motion was adopted with an additional prayer to constitute an ad-hoc committee to interface with the presidency regarding the issues and also engage the Minister of Defence, Chief of Defence Staff, Service Chiefs, Chairman and Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, related state governments and relevant stakeholders in a public hearing to determine permanent solutions to the killings.
On a related matter, the House also mandated its committees on Army, Human Rights, Justice and Police Affairs to probe the killings of some ad-hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC in Rivers State during the last general elections.
The resolution followed the adoption of a motion moved by Hon. Kingsley Chinda from Rivers State, wherein he stated that during the elections, “there was palpable presence of heavily armed men of security agencies, including the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) and the Nigerian army in several places across the country including Rivers State with clear cases of harassment and intimidation of voters and electoral officials, and sporadic gunshots by men of the security agencies”.
In Chinda’s own words: “Dr Ferry Gberegbe, a lecturer with the Ken Saro Wiwa Polytechnic, Bori, Rivers State was shot in his lower abdomen by men of FSARS led by ACP Akin Fakorede and he died a few days later from the gun wound.”
He added that “also at Degema, one Mrs Ibisaki Amachree was shot dead by the Nigerian army”.
Chinda described the killing as “callous and inhuman”, and called the House to immediately investigate the incidents.
Adopting the motion, the House gave the committees two weeks within which to do their assignments and report back to the House for further legislative action.
Meanwhile, the acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu has threatened to sanction Commissioners of Police in charge of state commands over dereliction of duty.
Adamu gave the warning at a meeting with officers on the rank of commissioner and above, yesterday in Abuja.
“I charge you all as you return to your various commands to renew your sense of commitment to duty and demonstrate requisite professional leadership needed to roll back the trend of crimes in your commands,” he said.
He enjoined them to evolve new strategies and approaches to crime management.
“You must learn to harness the strength within to neutralize all forms of crimes and security threats.
“The only way we can stay ahead of criminals is to continually generate actionable criminal intelligence to support our ant-crime functions,” he said.
The police boss said that the only way to achieve this was to cultivate partnership and confidence by returning policing to the people.
He said that while some of the commissioners have done well in their commands, some have not.
Adamu said that the current security challenges in the country had made non-performance unacceptable to the force.
He said the leadership of the force would strive to support and motivate them to effectively discharge their duty.
The police boss said that with the current security challenges in the country, it was the duty of personnel of the force to rededicate themselves to their constitutional mandate.
“The threats appear challenging but I can assure you that they are surmountable and we shall provide the requisite leadership needed to address them,” he said.
“We, however, cannot do it alone. We seek the citizens’ supports and we trust that you shall all partner with us to present a common front in the war against criminals,” he said.
Adamu said that “Operation Puff Adder” was conceptualised to further complement the functions of the commissioners at the commands.
He said that the initiative, which was launched on April 5, was yielding results with the arrest of 46 suspects, rescuing of two victims and killing of 10 suspects.
Others are: 1,300 AK-47 live ammunition, 10 extra rifle magazines, 28 live cartridges, recovery of 18 AK-47 rifles and nine locally made fabricated weapons.
He alleged that some traditional rulers in Zamfara were also involved the mining business that had contributed to the security problems in the state.
He said that the meeting would review the progress so far made by the initiative in response to the resurgence of kidnapping, armed robbery, banditry and other heinous crimes.
Also, Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State has lamented that bandits have taken over his state.
Masari spoke to the acting Inspector General of Police (IGP) Muhammed Adamu, on Wednesday.
The Governor said his government has met with the eight Local Government chairmen to keep them informed, adding that he will do whatever possible to see to the final onslaught on the bandits.
He said the IGP was coming in a period of anxiety and apprehension.
Masari said that Katsina State has supported and will continue to support the ongoing ‘Operation Puff Adder’ with funds, logistics and accommodation.
He also announced a donation of 12 vans to the police.
The Deputy Governor, MannirYakubu, spoke on behalf of Governor Masari, said kidnappers and the bandits have taken parts of Katsina and destroyed properties at will.
He said, “These bandits strike at will, maim at will, destroy lives and property at will.
“In other parts of the state, we also have kidnappers who not only take people on the road but in the comfort of their homes.
“Unfortunate incidence of the governor’s in-law who was taken in the comfort of her home.”
The eight local government areas are: Jibia, Batsari, Safana, Dan-Musa, Faskari, Sabuwa, Dandume and Kankara.
In a related development, the Senate, yesterday, asked the Federal Government to expedite action on the freedom of Leah Sharibu, the student of Science Secondary School Dapchi, Yobe State, who has been in captivity of the Boko Haram insurgents since February last year.
A splinter group of Boko Haram insurgents had, on February 19, 2018, abducted 115 girls from the school but released 109 a month after, claiming that five out of the abducted girls died in captivity while Leah Sharibu was held back for refusing to renounce her faith.
Since then, both federal and state governments had promised Leah’s parents that she would be released from captivity but nothing was being done on the issue 13 months after.
The senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, drew the attention of his colleagues to Leah’s plight, through a point of order, yesterday, stressing the need to urge the Federal Government to expedite action on rescuing the girl.
Sani said, “Fourteen months of Leah Sharibu in the captivity of Boko Haram insurgents and five years of the yet to be released Chibok girls calls for national concern and urgent need by relevant authorities to do all within their powers in getting them released.
“What perhaps may be the most important strategy to be adopted in getting Leah and others out of captivity is the option of dialogue with the their abductors.
“It has worked in so many other places where similar abductions took place like Afghanistan, Pakistan and other nations being terrorised by the Talibans.
“Though government cannot be said not to have taken actions in getting Leah and others released, but there is need for it to redouble and expedite actions in that direction.
“This is because parents and relatives of the abductees should be freed from psychological trauma they must have been facing and for the abductees to know that they have a country that cares for them”.
Sani’s motion was not subjected to debate because it was raised under self explanation but the Senate President, Bukola Saraki in his remarks, said all efforts must be made by the Federal Government in getting Leah and others released.
However, the Senate, yesterday, confirmed three new ambassadorial nominees recommended to it by President Muhammadu Buhari early this year.
Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja
S’Court Judgement On Bayelsa: RSG Condemns Attacks On Peter Odili, Family …Bemoans FG’s Silence On Threat To Ex-Gov’s Life
The Rivers State Government has condemned the cowardly attacks on the former state Governor, Dr Peter Odili and his family, especially his wife, Hon Justice Mary Odili, for performing her official duties as Justice of the Supreme Court in effort to further deepen democracy and promote the rule of law in Nigeria.
The condemnation was contained in a statement, signed by the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, shortly after the State Executive Council (SEC), in Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The state government, which described the attacks as unacceptable and unfortunate, said it would not fold its hands and watch lawless Nigerians attack the former First Family of the state with impunity, and cautioned those involved in the dastardly act to retrace their steps and find more noble things to do to give their lives meaning.
The statement reads in full, “The Rivers State Executive Council at its meeting held on Wednesday, 19th February, 2020 at the Government House, Port Harcourt, reviewed the recent attacks on the residence of the former governor of Rivers State, Dr Peter Odili as a result of the Supreme Court judgment that nullified the election of David Lyon as governor of Bayelsa State and resolved as follows: ‘That the Rivers State Executive Council observed that the Federal Government seems not to show interest in the sponsored threats to the lives of Dr Peter Odili and members of his family.
“That the Rivers State Executive Council condemns the barricading of the residence of Dr Peter Odili at Maitama, Abuja by sponsored thugs of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“That the Rivers State Executive Council wondered why Dr Peter Odili’s family should be singled out for the unwarranted attack, when the judgment that ousted David Lyon as Governor of Bayelsa State was a unanimous decision of a five-member panel of Supreme Court Justices.
“That the Rivers State Executive Council warns the Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva and the National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole and their hired agents to desist from the sponsorship of violent attacks against Dr Peter Odili and members of his family.
“That the Rivers State Government will hold Timipre Sylva and Adams Oshiomhole responsible if anything happens to Dr Peter Odili and members of his family.
“That the Rivers State Executive Council noted that in the past Rivers State suffered unfavourable Judicial Pronouncements and never resorted to self-help as being promoted by APC Leaders in the case of Bayelsa State.
“That the Rivers State Government will employ all legal means to protect Dr Peter Odili and members of his family.
“That the Rivers State Government will protect Rivers State Indigenes who are serving Federal and State Judicial officers.
“That the Rivers State Government warns that should this harassment and intimidation continue, it will have no alternative than to retaliate.
“That the Rivers State Government will defend the lives and property of Rivers people at all times. Enough is enough”, the statement added.
NUPENG Shuts Filling Stations In Rivers …RSG Cautions Consumers Against Panic Buying
Barely 48hours after stakeholders averted proposed strike over seizure of petroleum tankers by personnel of security agencies, including the Army, the leadership of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Employees (NUPENG) has succumbed to pressure, and directed filling stations in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital and its environs to shut down operations following fresh disagreement between tanker drivers and security agencies in the state.
But in a swift reaction, yesterday, the Rivers State Government has called on members of the public to avoid panic buying of petroleum products as it has taken steps to resolve issues leading to the protest by petroleum tanker drivers in the state.
Most of the filling stations monitored across Port Harcourt City and Obio/Akpor local government areas in Rivers State, yesterday, were discovered to have complied with the fresh directive to embark on strike over the arrest of some tanker drivers and seizure of their vehicles.
The shutdown of operations has led to fuel scarcity and resurgence of black market in Port Harcourt and its environs.
Also, black market operators have taken advantage of the development to make brisk deals.
Our correspondent, who monitored the industrial action by the filing station operators, reports that queues have continued to build up in most filling stations in the state capital.
The majority of the filling stations were said to have stopped dispensing fuel to motorists and other consumers since midnight on Tuesday after another tanker was said to have been seized by the Task Force on Illegal Parking.
Our correspondent, who monitored the situation in Port Harcourt, yesterday, observed that Tonnino Filling Station, Jet Filling Station and Royal Dynasty Filling Station on Ada-George Road, as well as some filling stations on Port Harcourt-Aba Road, and the few between Rumuomasi through Elekahia, were all shut down.
Also, Eterna Filling Station and Forte Filling Station located along Peter Odili Road were both shut down.
Our correspondent also tracked a Toyota Sienna and Hiace buses populated by NUPENG strike enforcement team, monitoring compliance with the directive within Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor LGAs.
The two buses were seen criss-crossing the roads, monitoring all filling stations from Aba Road through Waterlines, and from Rumuokalagbor-Elekahia through Nkpogu to Peter Odili, and onward to Port Harcourt Township through Eastern Bypass.
Speaking on the action, the National Treasurer of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Employees, NUPENG, Comrade Alex Agwanwa, explained that the action was due to the inability of security agents to respect the understanding they reached with the union, last weekend.
Agwanwa, who is also the chairman of the United Labour Congress in Rivers State explained that between Sunday and yesterday, more trucks have been arrested alongside the drivers by security agencies.
“Instead of maintaining our understanding, they decided to arrest more trucks. As we speak, 27 trucks carrying legal products have been arrested. It is unacceptable.
“This matter has been on for the past two years. We did not want it to get to this stage but here we are,” he added.
The NUPENG official maintained that the filings stations would remain shut until all their members and trucks seized by the security agencies are released.
Some filling station attendants, who spoke with The Tide said their services were withdrawn following directives from the leadership of the joint body of petroleum marketers in Rivers State.
The Chairman of the Licensed Filling Station Owners in Rivers State, Comrade Sunny Nkpe, who spoke with The Tide on the issue, said the action was taken because of the violation of an agreement reached by all stakeholders on the matter, which shelved the earlier planned strike.
He said their members were still facing intimidation and arrests by the state task force on illegal parking and other security operatives.
On his part, the National Public Relations Officer of NUPENG, Comrade Chinedu Ukadike, said the decision reached on February 16 for security agencies and the state government to release the union’s trucks in detention by February 17 was yet to be carried out, hence the directive to withdraw of the services of members.
He further claimed that the arrests were unnecessary and carried out without proper investigation.
He said, “Most of these trucks are carrying our products. If they continue to hold our trucks in detention, what do they want us to sell?”.
Some motorists, who spoke with our correspondent, lamented the situation, stating that it was difficult for them to operate due to scarcity of products.
A commercial driver, Akanimo Abel, said he bought a liter of fuel at N350 from black market operators.
He said, “My business is badly affected by the strike, the strike took all of us by surprise, and we did not expect it. We thought all the issues have been resolved. I want the issues to be resolved once so that normal business can go on.”
Another commercial taxi driver, Chris Agbogu, said the strike has caused grave difficulties to the users of the products, adding that he was finding it difficult to buy enough fuel to enable him do his business.
In reaction to the surprise strike by tanker drivers and filling station owners in the state, the Rivers State Government, yesterday, advised members of the public to avoid panic buying of petroleum products as it has taken steps to resolve issues leading to the protest by petroleum tanker drivers in the state.
The Rivers State Commissioner for Energy, Dr Peter Medee, who gave the advise in an interview with newsmen in Government House, Port Harcourt, said the lingering protest was as a result of several threats by the union that they want to go on strike.
“There are catalog of what they actually requested that we do, and we have been making efforts to see what we can do to resolve those things”, he said.
He explained that the state government had approached the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army on some trucks seized by soldiers and that the GOC had graciously approved release of those trucks.
“Unfortunately, some of those trucks were handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for further investigation.
“There are processes that we have to take to get those ones that were sent to EFCC released, and we are in the process of getting them done”, the commissioner said, adding that the trucks at the 6 Division have already been released.
On the trucks impounded by the state task force on decongestion of roads, Medee said they had also made efforts to get them released, and also gone to the prison to release members of the union that were imprisoned, while those in police custody for wrong parking have also been released.
“What I am saying in essence is that we are making several efforts. Now, we have started engaging directly with their national leadership because we have seen that their union people in the state are beginning to show lack of understand of the sensibility of government”.
He noted that the government of Chief Nyesom Wike was very careful with the ease of doing business initiative because it was his vision that nothing should hinder business activities in the state, hence the need to thread with caution.
The commissioner further stated that the Federal Government was battling with oil theft, which was why a lot of trucks involved in sharp practices were being impounded daily by security agencies.
He gave kudos to the union leaders for declaring that they would not support any of their members involved in illegality.
“However, we expect the union to understand and bear with us. All the efforts we are making are gradually paying off. We are releasing the trucks. We are releasing their members that were arrested.
“We are not ignoring them. We are doing our very best to make sure that the problem is resolved, and I can assure you that in a short time, whatever you are seeing will be over.
“My advice to Rivers people is that they should avoid panic buying, relax, we will definitely handle this problem”, the commissioner assured.
Chris Oluoh, Taneh Beemene & Benice Iragunima
Tribute To Bishop Matthew Kuka’s Homily
Like a vote of thanks, a tribute is meant to give praise and honour to whom such is due; especially in an environment where people live in fear to say the truth, or tell an emperior that he is dressed like a clown, or behaves like one. Anybody who is acquainted with Bishop Matthew Hassan Kuka would testify that he is an ideal human being and also a shining light of what a Christian should be.
Anybody reading the homily of Bishop Kuka titled “For a Tormented Nation and a Besieged Faith”, carried by The Tide newspaper (Friday February 14, 2020), would be deeply touched by the message contained therein. In the language of the Catholic Church, a homily is a speech or advice given at a special religious ceremony, in this case, burial of a Seminarian, Michael Nnamdi, in Kaduna, murdered by kidnappers recently.
Maybe Michael was not the first or only Seminarian kidnapped in Nigeria for a ransome, but from the Good Shepherd Seminary, Kaduna, that incident was a shock. His death was a greater shock, both to Catholics in Nigeria and across the globe, with a total of 3,305 persons lighting candles shortly before his burial on the February 5.
An ancient sage once said that it is to those who understand the world, not those who disfigure it; those who strive to liberate humans from plight and enslavement, not those who aggravate them, that we owe our loyalty.
We live and intermingle in a world where there are noble and ignoble people and where those who strive to ennoble the status of mankind stand in danger. Yet, the likes of Bishop Matthew Kuka should not be lacking in every society, for they provide courage to the stooping spirit of man. Not only are humans standing in a moment of decision, moment of separation of the darkness from light and moment of rudderless navigation. In the words of Bishop Kuka: “Today, our years of hypocrisy, duplicity, fabricated integrity, false piety, empty morality, fraud and pharisaism have caught up with us”.
Truly, Nigeria is at a point where we must call for a verdict; a time to confront and dispel the clouds of evil that hover over us; for we have practiced madness for too long. Kuka, in his homily recalled how, in Chatham House in London, Buhari said: “If I am elected President, the world will have no reason to worry about Nigeria. Nigeria will return to its stabilising role in West Africa … And I, Muhammadu Buhari, will always lead from the front”.
Bishop Kuka spoke the whole truth and on behalf of Nigerians that “this President has displayed the greatest degree of insensitivity in managing our country’s rich diversity. He has subordinated the larger interest of the country to the hegemonic interests of his co-religionists and clansmen and women … Today, in Nigeria, the noble religion of Islam has convulsed …”
Unfortunately, Islam is beginning to earn an unpleasant reputation through the instrumentality of bad politics. It is true that Muslim scholars, traditional rulers and intellectuals have continued to cry out helplessly, asking for their religion and region to be freed from chokehold. Bishop Kuka tells us that “neither Islam nor the North can identify any real benefits from these years that have been consumed by the locusts that this government has unleashed on our country. The Fulani, his innocent Kinsmen, have become the subject of opprobrium, ridicule, defamation, calumny and obloquy”.
Is it a hate speech to say that this administration is “running the most nepotic and narcissistic government in known history”? Or that “the North still has the worst indices of poverty, insecurity, stunting, squalor and destitution”? does the fact that The Sultan recently lamented the tragic consequences of power being in the wrong hands, not indicate that all is not well with Nigeria currently?
Similarly, we are told that “the Northern Elders who is 2015 believed that General Buhari had come to redeem the North, have now turned against the President.” Is it not true that things fall apart when politicians use religion to extend the frontiers of their ambition and power? Why do kidnappers separate their victims and force Christians to become Muslims?
Apart from the killing of Late Seminarian Michael Nnamdi by his kidnnappers, had there not been similar killing of Christian clerics by kidnappers and terrorists in recent times? Should we accept the logic of a presidential spokesperson that since more Muslims are being killed than Christians, then there is sense in senseless killings? From the homily of Bishop Kuka that “killing Christian and destroying Christianity is seen as one of their key missions,” it become obvious that kidnappers and terrorists are out on a definite purpose.
The fact that His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto and the Emir of Kano, two most powerful leaders, have expressed their unhappiness over the situations in the country. But in spite of the obvious provocations and trends, Bishop M. Kuka can still tell the world that “we have no vengeance or bitterness in our hearts…Trials of every sort come our way, but we are not discouraged…”
Bishop Matthew Hassan Kuka has aptly shown through his homily that he has a clear understanding of the problems of this country, one of which is the use of religion as an instrument of political power. While not suggesting the use of violence or vengeance on the part of Christians, he has asked the current administration to run an inclusive system where everyone would have a sense of belonging and contribute to build up Nigeria.
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