The Senate Wednesday told President Muhammadu Buhari to declare bandits as terrorists and wage total war against them.
Classification of bandits as terrorists by the Senate came on the heels of killings being carried out by the criminal elements across the three senatorial zones of Sokoto state.
Massive killings of innocent lives in Sokoto state, totalling about 500 within the last two months, was brought to the attention of the red chamber by Senator Ibrahim Abdullahi Gobir (APC Sokoto East ), through a motion sponsored along with eight other lawmakers.
In the motion titled: “Banditry in Sokoto State,” Senator Gobir said the eastern senatorial district of the state had now become a safe haven for bandits due to the ongoing crackdown against them in Zamfara state.
He specifically lamented that on Saturday, 25th September, 2021, Twenty One (21) Security Personnel were killed in Dama and Gangara villages by rampaging bandits, 15 of them soldiers, 3 Mobile Police and 3 members of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps; in addition to yet to be ascertained number of civilians from neighbouring villages.
This, he explained, had gone to portray the seriousness of the problem which requires concerted and urgent action by the declaration of total war on banditry by the Nigerian government.
He said losing such number of trained security personnel would further deplete the numerical strength of the nation’s security agencies and jeopardise the security architecture of the country.
Gobir said: “No section of the State within the last two months has not been attacked in one way or the other by the bandits with attendant loss of innocent lives totalling about 500 when figures are put together from one affected community to the other.
“Not less than 50,000 Nigerians have hurriedly relocated to Niger Republic as a result of incessant attacks of armed bandits on their communities.
“While the crackdown on the bandits was taking place in Zamfara State, no concrete measures have been taken in Sokoto State leaving it totally exposed to the activities of the bandits which made most of them to relocate to Sabon Birni and Isa Local Governments.”
The lawmaker further lamented that the present military onslaught on the bandits “is not well co-ordinated because it is only being orchestrated in Zamfara State instead of all the frontline States ravaged by banditry, i.e. Sokoto, Katsina, Niger and Kaduna States.”
“The operation should be holistic instead of restrictive in order to produce effective and the desired results,” he stressed.
Virtually all the lawmakers who spoke on the matter, including Senators Uche Ekwunife (PDP Anambra Central) and Ali Ndume (APC Borno South), called on government and security agencies to make the war against banditry and insurgency in the country, a well coordinated and potent one.
In his remarks, Senate President Ahmad Lawan commended the security agencies were doing their best in curtailing crimes and criminalities in the country.
He, however, called for improved appropriation for the armed forces to meet their needs, even as he said concerned committees should ensure the monies were appropriately used.
He said: “Distinguished colleagues, I think the issue of insecurity is one issue we will never get tired of debating here, and we must commend our Armed Forces and other Security Agencies.
“They give their lives in trying to secure this country, and that is the ultimate sacrifice anybody could pay. I believe that they are doing their best, but we also need to do our best as a government by giving them the kind of resources that they need.
“I believe we have done that in the supplementary budget like pointed out, but we also need to improve the annual appropriation for them.
“If we could pass over N800 billion in the supplementary budget, I don’t see why we cannot improve the resources up to N1 trillion and then hold our security agencies accountable.
“And I believe that we need to monitor the procurement processes when we give such kind of resources to our Armed Forces.
“The security related committees, particularly the armed forces related committees – Defence, Army, Navy and Airforce Committees – need to work very closely on the procurement processes by these services.
“We must ensure that funds appropriated are not put in the wrong areas, and ensure that this fight is taken to its logical conclusion.”
In its resolutions, the Senate also urged President Buhari to declare all the known leadership of the bandits wanted and track them wherever they are for arrest and prosecution; and as well directed the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and other disaster management outfits, to as a matter of urgency, give all the necessary supports to victims of the menace of banditry in Sokoto and other parts of the country.
Killing of Akunyili, others
In a related development, gunmen, Tuesday, killed Dr Chike Akunyili, the husband of late Professor Dora Akunyili, former Director General National Agency for Food and Drug and Administration (NAFDAC).
According to reports, Akunyili was shot dead by gun-wielding women at Nkpor junction in Idemili North local government area Anambra state while returning from an event where his late wife was honoured by the University of Nigeria Nsukka Alumni Association (UNAA), Onitsha branch.
Although the state Police command was yet to confirm the report, a viral video showed the deceased in the pool of his blood.
“God, please render the devil and his agents powerless and useless. I was with this man yesterday (Tuesday) same yesterday at Sharon Hall, All Saints Cathedral, Onitsha. It was an occasion of University of Nigeria Nsukka Alumni Association (UNAA), Onitsha branch event where they honoured late Dora Akunyili.
“He spoke glowingly about Dora and made a donation of 500k (N500, 000) to the association.
“He was there with his son, Obum now working with Anambra state government. We saw them off to the car and it was emotional when Obum hugged him tight as both of them separated to join their respective vehicles. “Obum was in a white Hilux while the man was in a big Jeep (I think Prado). God have mercy!”a source stated.
On what could be the deceased’s offence, another source claimed he was not the target but “his sin is that his security wanted to clear the road because of a heavy traffic at Nkpor. Some girls and boy with covered face started shooting at them immediately they saw the security guys clearing the road. He saw what was happening and wanted to move out of his jeep, the girls faced him and fired him.”
Ohaneze, CAN call for unity
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have called for unity among the Igbo nation.
The two groups which lamented constant killings in Igbo land called for unity among members of the nation.
They made the call Wednesday during a prayer summit to mark the World Igbo Day at the Christian Ecumenical Centre, Abakaliki.
It was organised by Ebonyi state branch of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in collaboration with the state government.
Representing the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo George Obiozor, Secretary General of the group, Okey Emuche, noted that Igbo land was under siege.
He said: “We need to take a pulse concerning Igbo nation, we need to seek the face of God, we need to remember our brothers and sisters who have been killed over the years.
“But more importantly we need to think about today, the Igbo nation is under siege, too many killings. As I sat there waiting for the event to start, a video was sent to me about the latest killing in Anambra state- the husband of late Professor Dora Akunyili was brutally murdered.
“The killings for the last couple of days in Anambra state calls for introspection, called for a pulse. We are under siege; the southeast states are under siege.
We plead with the men of God gathered here, the CAN are here, mothers, fathers are here, something urgent needs to be done; this is the message of the PG of Ohanaeze.
“He has asked IPOB to think and to think deeply because if you kill every person, who will be there?
“We need to take a pulse as a people and understand what is confronting us. Beyond sit-at-home, these killings that have started went round from one state to the other maiming lives for the Igbo people.”
On his part, Chairman Southeast CAN Rev. Fr. Abraham Nwali expressed the need for Igbo people to be united.
“Igbo people should unite. Ohaneze Ndigbo General and Ohanaeze youth should unite. If the church is not united, the Igbo nation will be in difficulty. Igbo leaders, traditional rulers and chiefs should come together and seek for unity of Igbo people.
“Enugu, Ebonyi, Igbo nation should come up with an enterprise that will boost its resources that they can stand on their own,” the cleric said.
Reprisal in Plateau
In a related development, four persons were reportedly ambushed and killed in what seems a reprisal in the crises-prone areas of Bassa local government area of Plateau State.
Spokesman of Irigwe Development Association (IDA) Malison Davidson said two of the deceased persons were killed while moving on their motorcycle around Twin Hill Road, Jebbu Miango, Miango District of Rigwe Chiefdom in the local government area, while two others were later found dead in the farm.
However, spokesman of the state Police command, ASP Ubah Ogaba, confirmed that only two persons were killed.
Blueprint reports that last week, at least three herders were killed and more than a dozen of their cows rustled at Tashan Maude village near a poultry beside Rafin Bauna in Irigwe chiefdom, while three herders were separately attacked and killed as well.
Kaduna shuts down telecoms
Meanwhile, Kaduna state government Wednesday directed the shutdown of telecommunications services in the state.
This, the government said, was to check influx of bandits from Zamfara and Katsina states.
Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs Samuel Aruwan disclosed this at a press conference in Kaduna.
He also announced the ban on all motorcycles across the state for three months.
Governor el-Rufai had in a chat with local broadcast media Tuesday evening said bandits were now coming into the state from Katsina and Zamfara states to make calls and demand ransom.
According to Aruwan, relevant federal agencies had already informed the state government that the processes for telecoms shutdown in parts of the state had commenced.
“I am here to announce the implementation of certain measures to assist the security agencies in parts of the state. Governor Nasir el-Rufai announced in a media chat yesterday (Tuesday) that the state government has formally requested the Federal Government to enforce the shutdown of telecom services in parts of the state identified by security agencies as requiring such measures.
“The relevant federal agencies have today informed the Kaduna state government that the processes for telecoms shutdown in parts of the state have commenced. As part of the steps to address the current security situation in Kaduna state and neighbouring states in the North-West and North-Central regions, KDSG has held several meetings with security agencies to adopt critical measures towards crushing bandits in their identified hideouts.
“The military and other security forces have been carrying out assaults on the identified locations. The state government is advised that certain measures are now necessary to assist the spirited efforts of these security agencies. The following measures become effective from Thursday, 30 September 2021:
“The complete ban on the use of motorcycles (Okada) for commercial or personal purposes for three months in the first instance. Ban on possession of or wielding of dangerous weapons. Tricycles are allowed to operate only from 6am to 7pm. All tricycles must remove all curtains. Movement of all tricycles is restricted from dusk till dawn (7pm to 6am).
“All vehicles used for commercial transport must be painted in yellow and black within 30 days. Vehicles that are part of ride hailing services are to carry yellow and black stripes. Ban on the sale of petrol in jerry cans or other containers in Birnin Gwari, Giwa, Chikun, Igabi, Kachia, Kagarko and Kajuru LGAs persists.
“Other containment measures previously communicated by the Kaduna state government remain in place. These include: ban on felling of trees and forestry activities in Birnin Gwari, Giwa, Igabi, Chikun, Kachia, Kagarko and Kajuru LGAs, ban on firewood and charcoal transportation and ban on the transportation of livestock into and out of the state.
“Others include cessation of weekly markets in the front line local government areas of Birnin Gwari, Giwa, Chikun, Igabi, Kajuru and Kawo weekly market of Kaduna North local government. The Kaduna state government regrets the severe strain and inconvenience these measures will place on peaceful and law abiding citizens.
“The government therefore appeals for the understanding and cooperation of all residents of the affected areas, and indeed across the State. These difficult times have demand that difficult decisions be made. The measures have been adopted purely in the interest of our collective safety and security, and to aid our brave forces in their fight against these mindless criminals.
“Too many lives have been lost, and too many families have been shattered. Small groups of wicked persons cannot continue to hold us to ransom, and force us to live in perpetual fear. Once again, the government craves the understanding of all citizens. The hardship we face will be temporary, and we are confident that in the end, it will pay off. Good will prevail over evil,” Aruwan said.