The House of Representatives has called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to ensure timely release of the passengers of the Abuja-Kaduna train abducted by terrorists.
The chamber specifically urged him to “expedite action to secure the release of the remaining 51 Nigerians kidnapped in the Abuja-Kaduna train attack and all other Nigerians held hostage by bandits and terrorists across the country.”
In addition, the parliament urged the Federal Government to set up a high-powered inter-agency panel to coordinate efforts and ensure the release of abductees across the country, as well as assist their families.
Furthermore, the lawmakers mandated the House Committees on Army, National Security and Intelligence to ensure compliance with the resolutions.
The resolutions were based on the unanimous adoption of a motion titled, ‘Need to secure the Release of the Kidnapped Abuja-Kaduna Train Passengers and other Nigerians Held Captives in the Country.’
Messrs Bamidele Salam, Julius Ihonvbere, Aminu Goro, Nnolim Nnaji, Shehu Kakale, Tolulope Akande-Sadipe, Benjamin Mzondu, Jaha Ahmed, Mansur Manu-Soro, Abubakar Yabo and Kingsley Uju jointly sponsored the motion.
The Speaker, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, disclosed that the leadership of the House met with families of the victims earlier on Wednesday, describing how badly he felt when he say the trauma the relatives are going through.
Gbajabiamila said, “As a House, we need to come together and put pressure on our security agencies to get the victims out. Eleven people have been freed so far and there are still over 50 in captivity. The families, friends and relatives that we met yesterday, quite honestly, one cannot but feel their pains.
“I commend Honourable Bamidele (Salam) for his work and efforts so far in this regard. And I think as a House we should come together and do whatever we can as an institution to encourage the agencies, who are doing their best but who still need to do more to get these people out.”
Moving the motion, Salam cited Section 14(2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), which states that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government, while Section 17 (2) (b) further states that the sanctity of the human person shall be recognized and human dignity maintained and enhanced.
The lawmaker noted that in the last 10 years, terrorism, banditry, kidnappings and other forms of violent crimes have become “a security epidemic” in different parts of the country.
“The House is worried that over 70per cent of the kidnapped victims are mostly children, women and elderly persons who were violently attacked and captured by criminals in the course of discharging their daily activities on the farms, villages, roads, worship centres and other places.
“The House is alarmed that a large number of the kidnapped citizens have remained in captivity for years, months and days without any form of help to either release them or provide social, medical or economic support to their grieving family members from the government,” he said.
Salam listed some of the unresolved cases of kidnappings to include the remnant of 2014 kidnapped Chibok girls, Leah Sharibu in February, 2018, the Islamiyya school students kidnapped in Niger State on May 30, 2021; the Bethel Baptist High School Kaduna students kidnapped on July 5, 2021; and the students of Federal Government College Birnin Yauri kidnapped on October 21, 2021.
According to him, there have been over 100 cases of kidnappings and abduction of Nigerians in 2022, the most disturbing being the case of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack of March 28, 2022.
Salam said, “The House is dismayed that during the train attack, 168 Nigerians were reportedly kidnapped with eight persons killed, including a young doctor due to travel out of the country the week the incident occurred.
“The House is concerned that the abductors of the train attack recently released pictures and video footages of 62 victims held hostage in terrible, physical and emotional conditions, with a threat to kill them if their demands were not met by the Federal Government.
“The House is also dismayed that the hostages include children aged two, five, seven and nine years; men with bullet wounds, a victim with an amputated leg, diabetic patients, while others are citizens with various health challenges as well as nursing mothers.”
The lawmaker noted that the stories told by 11 of the hostages recently released by the kidnappers depicted the “increasingly deteriorating condition of the remaining hostages, who are getting malnourished, emotionally distressed and psychologically traumatised for over 70 days in the forest.”
He said, “The House is concerned that if nothing urgent is done to secure the freedom of victims in captivity across the country, citizens will lose confidence in government which may embolden criminals and groups to step up acts of criminality and thus endanger the stability of the nation.”
RSHA: Amaewhule-Led Lawmakers Defy Court Order, Elect New Leaders
The crisis rocking the Rivers State House of Assembly took a new twist on Wednesday as lawmakers loyal to the former Speaker, Martin Amaewhule, sat under tight security in the complex.
This is contrary to the court order asking the two factions of the State House of Assembly to maintain the status quo pending the determination of a suit filed by the Edison Ehie faction.
Recall that Ehie faction had obtained a court order that parties should maintain the status quo pending the determination of a suit seeking to sack Amaewhule as the House Speaker.
The Rivers Assembly had become factionalised following an unsuccessful move to impeach Governor Siminialayi Fubara.
The Amaewhule-led lawmakers are believed to be loyal to Fubara’s predecessor and political godfather, Nyesom Wike.
It was learnt that ahead of Wednesday’s sitting, cleaners had on Tuesday been deployed to clean up the Assembly complex, which had been under locks, since October 29, following an explosion in the complex the night before.
One of the cleaners said they were instructed to tidy up the complex ahead of a sitting on Wednesday.
It was gathered that the Wednesday sitting was held for about two hours as a team of riot policemen and security vans were stationed in front of the House to prevent any breaches.
It was gathered that the lawmakers elected a former Chief Whip as the new Majority Leader of the Assembly.
The member, representing Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Constituency 1, Frankline Nwabochi, was named the new Chief Whip.
An unsigned statement sent to the Assembly Press Corps obtained by The Tide said the two new principal officers accordingly took their oath of office.
Amaewhule congratulated them, charging them to be committed to their new responsibilities.
According to the statement, the lawmakers also passed the first reading of a Bill seeking to amend the Rivers State Local Government Law, No. 5 of 2018.
They also debated on the Rivers State House of Assembly Funds Management (Financial Autonomy) Bill, 2023, which passed second reading on Wednesday.
Amaewhule who described the Bill as important, expressed his conviction that Governor Fubara would assent to it after the lawmakers finally pass it.
He hinted that the governor had withheld funds meant for the Assembly for the month of November.
He said the lawmakers were determined to perform their constitutional duties despite the distractions.
He thereafter referred the Bill to the House Committee on Public Accounts for public hearing and further legislative scrutiny.
The other faction of the Assembly led by Ehie, and loyal to Fubara, had yet to react to the Wednesday development as of the time of filing this report.
Ogoni Group Mulls Recall Of Lawmakers Over Foiled Fubara’s Impeachment
An Advocacy group in Rivers State, Ogoni Development Drive (ODD), says it has begun the process to recall four Ogoni lawmakers from the Rivers House of Assembly over their alleged roles in the botched impeachment of Governor Similanayi Fubara.
The lawmakers are Dumle Maol (PDP, Gokana constituency), Barile Nwakoh (PDP, Khana), Aforji Igwe (PDP, Eleme) and Bernard Ngba (PDP, Tai).
The group’s Convener, Comrade Solomon Lenu, made this known at a news conference in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Recall that Fubara survived an alleged impeachment plot on October 30.
ODD said it had on November 10 issued a seven-day ultimatum to the four Ogoni lawmakers who partook in the plot that attempted to serve an impeachment notice to Governor Fubara.
The four lawmakers, now suspended, were asked to apologise to the Ogoni people whom they represent and to Gov. Fubara for denigrating his exalted office or risk being recalled.
“Instead of heeding this advice and embracing the olive branch extended to them, they rather embarked on an egocentric escapade,” the group said.
Lenu further said the lawmakers rather than heed to the advice by ODD, engaged in various meetings that purportedly plotted to unseat the governor.
“Governor Fubara was collectively voted for by the entire Rivers people, and as such, the action by the lawmakers has not gone well with all men and women of conscience.
“It is illogical for the erring assembly members to think it is right to impeach an innocent governor for no just cause but wrong to recall them for erring against their constituents.
“The suspended lawmakers called a bluff of ODD ultimatum, and so, we have decided to carry out this recall process in earnest, to put our democracy aright,” he said.
Lenu said the group had already reached an advanced level in sensitising and mobilising the lawmaker’s constituents to recall them.
He said that ODD had also obtained the comprehensive voters’ register of all voters in the four local government areas and constituencies.
According to him, an electronic capture form has also been created to make the petition process easier for students at various tertiary school campuses and those on holiday to sign the petition.
“So far, the response from the aggrieved constituents has been very impressive, and we shall in a few weeks’ time complete the compilation of the required signatures.
“The signatures are required for INEC to call for a referendum, which shall be carried out in branches with strict security guidance, to abort any sinister counterplot against democracy.
“We know this process is not going to be easy, but we are ready to go all the way, to create a sense of responsibility in our elected leaders,” he said.
Lenu said instilling a sense of responsibility in politicians and elected leaders would further entrench democratic tenets in the country.
The ODD convener called on the people of Ogoni to come forward and sign the petition, to end political “jamboree and illicit godfatherism” in the state.
The Tide reports that 26 lawmakers on Oct. 30 proceeded to impeach Fubara but were stopped by four pro-Fubara lawmakers led by Ehie Edison (PDP-Ahoada East II).
Mr Martins Amaewhule (Obio Akpor constituency), a close ally of a former governor, was later ousted as Speaker and Ehie sworn in as the new Speaker.
However, Amaewhule insists that he is still the Speaker of the House of Assembly, resulting in some form of confusion over the office of the Speaker.
FRSC Commander Faces Sanction Over Unauthorised Comments
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), yesterday, disowned the Unit Commander, Central Business District Unit Command, Assistant Corps Commander IL Ibrahim, over his recent statement on Vehicle Inspection Officers, otherwise known as Directorate of Road Traffic Services.
Ibrahim was quoted to have said that VIO officials did not have the right to arrest road traffic violators, including overloaded vehicles and motorists caught using phones while driving.
But Deputy Corps Marshal, Bisi Kazeem, in a statement, yesterday, said Ibrahim’s comment was not the position of the Corps.
Kazeem added that the concerned official had been recalled to the national headquarters for necessary disciplinary action.
The statement read, “The Federal Road Safety Corps wishes to make a pertinent clarification regarding the pronouncement by the Unit Commander, Central Business District Unit Command, Assistant Corps Commander IL Ibrahim, that Vehicle Inspection Officers, otherwise known as Directorate of Road Traffic Services, do not have the right to arrest road traffic violators, including overloaded vehicles and motorists caught using phones while driving.
“The general public is advised to disregard the statement as it had no approval of the Corps Marshal, Dauda Ali Biu, and does not in anyway reflect the corporate or general position of the Corps.
“It is important for the public know that the laws establishing VIOs/State Traffic Management Agencies give them the statutory mandate to make arrests on different offences depending on the state within which they operate. As such, the agencies should be given the maximum cooperation for the enhancement of safety on our roads.
“On this note and in line with sustaining the Corps’ resolve that road safety is a collective responsibility, and in acknowledgement of the roles the State Traffic Management Agencies like the Vehicle Inspection Officers play in complementing the statutory responsibilities of the FRSC through enforcement of traffic laws, the Corps Marshal has ordered the immediate withdrawal of the Unit Commander to the national headquarters for necessary administrative and disciplinary actions.
“The public is admonished to always comply with all established traffic regulations and cooperate with security agencies deployed to maintain law and order on the highways, irrespective of their corporate mandate.”
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