The spate of killings in parts of the country is taking a frightening dimension, with some gunmen hitting Abuja, the nation’s capital city on Monday night, killing seven policemen and injuring one other.
The tragic incident occurred at the Galadimawa roundabout, an Abuja suburb very close to the ever-busy Airport Road, at about 10.00 pm.
A breakdown of the casualties showed that four of them were of the Police Mobile Force, while the three others belonged to the conventional police, disclosed a source at the scene of the event.
A resident told Blueprint under anonymity that the hoodlums, who were said to be “20 or thereabout,” suddenly opened fire on the cops “doing their stop-and- search operation, and killing them there and then.
“This led to a quick deployment of some policemen to the scene to restore some level of sanity in the area. But that certainly was not after the havoc had been wreaked”
Blueprint could not readily ascertain the kind of vehicles used for the operation and the direction they emerged from, as everybody, including the night petty traders, Okada riders, residents and even cab operators, around the scene fled into safety.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police Force has commenced investigation towards arresting the suspects of the heinous act.
Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Jimoh Moshood, made the disclosure while briefing journalists, yesterday in Abuja.
“Investigation has commenced into the killing of the seven policemen by armed bandits,” he said, assuring, however, that the force would do everything possible to bring perpetrators of the act to book.
“The killing of the policemen goes a long way to prove that the call for the disbandment of the SARS is not justified,” Moshood added.
‘Time for state policing’
And as a way of finding lasting solution to the endless killings, the Senate, yesterday resolved to urgently put machinery in motion for the creation of state and community policing through a constitution amendment to that effect.
In getting it done quickly, the upper legislative chamber mandated its committee on Constitution Review, headed by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, to start work on the process immediately and report to the Senate in two weeks.
It also mandated its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, to come up with a bill for the creation of Truth, Peace and Reconciliation Commission within the next two weeks, towards putting on ground a platform for promotion of peace and unity in the affected areas and Nigeria as a whole.
Similarly, the upper legislative chamber also resolved to expedite action on Police Reform Bill already before it.
These were major fallouts of marathon debate senators had on the recent Plateau killings and other parts of the country.
Senators in the debate, sequel to a motion moved to that effect by Senator David Jonah Jang (PDP Plateau South), condemned in its entirety the wanton killings in the land and ‘helplessness’ of the security agencies, particularly the centralised Police Force.
In the motion, Jang said a total of 155 people were killed in the last Plateau attack by suspected herdsmen out of which 98 were from Mangu Local Government.
The former Plateau state governor also said the way the killings were carried out for several hours by the attackers without any of the security agencies in the centralized security architecture responding , further shows that the time for decentralization of the architecture, particularly that of the Police is now .
Supporting Jang’s proposal, the deputy senate president said, as long as the country refused to do the needful in terms of state police, the wanton killings in the land will not end.
“I have been saying it here anytime issues of senseless killings in the land come up, that creation of state police is the way out since the centralized police have proved to be incapable of addressing the problem.
“By tomorrow (today) or next, a bill for constitutional provision for state and community policing, shall be sponsored by me in this chamber, “he said.
Other Senators like Olamilekan Adeola (APC Lagos West), Godswill Akpabio (PDP Akwa Ibom), Barnabas Gemade (APC Benue North East) etc, supported the call for creation of state police as the surest way out of the problem.
But Senators Adamu Aliero (APC Kebbi Central) and Kabiru Marafa (APC Zamfara Central) kicked against it, arguing that strengthening of the centralised police force through adequate funding and manpower, remained the best way out.
In his remarks, Senate President Bukola Saraki said, “the killings are totally unacceptable and we must condemn it in totality. These are acts of criminality and we should not encourage any other colouration to it. Be it religious, this is criminality and as such we have a role to ensure that we must address this criminality.
“We believe there is need for urgent review of the security architecture. We must not only see from the point of view that there is danger to security, there is also danger if we really believe that we are going to push our economy, it is going to become stagnant.”
Reps on Plateau killings
In a related development, the House of Representatives has called for a coroner’s inquest, as well as forensic examination with a view to unravelling the origin, calibre of weapons and ammunitions used in the recent Jos killings to unravel their source.
This came as the House, which resumed plenary yesterday from its Eid-el-Fitr break, devoted about two hours, debating a motion brought under matters of urgent public importance by Hon. Istifanus Gyang, and his four other colleagues from Plateau state on recent attack in the state by suspected killer-herdsmen.
While urging President Muhammadu Buhari to condemn such attacks by taking decisive and practical steps in tune with the constitutional responsibility, the House also said there was need for a fresh constitutional review to allow the creation of state police.
The House condemned the attacks, as it further urged the arrest and prosecution of perpetrators of the killings, as well as called on the government to recover about 52 villages reportedly being occupied by attackers, for the displaced owners to return to their ancestral homes.
Gyang, in moving the motion, told the House that not less than 15 villages were completely destroyed in the “well coordinated” attacks, adding that the violence, including similar ones in the past “have a pattern where once a community is attacked, it is cleansed by killing the native inhabitants, their houses burnt and destroyed, and the vacated land taken over for occupation.”
Earlier, Speaker Yakubu Dogara, had in his welcome remarks, sounded a note of warning that history would be harsh to the present administration if it fails to stop the mass killing of innocent Nigerians across the country.
He said, with the ugly trend, citizens were fast losing confidence in the nation’s security system.
The speaker further noted that whatever achievements recorded by the government, would not be remembered if the orgy of violence and mass killing of innocent Nigerians continue unabated.
“History will have a harsh verdict for us as a government if we fail to live up to this responsibility, and it won’t matter if we succeed in other areas. Unfortunately, the stark reality now is that our citizens are fast losing confidence in our security system.
“This must not be the case. Before we ebb to the realm of anarchy, we must rise up as true representatives of the Nigerian people to salvage the situation and defend our hard-won democracy,” he said.
He also contended that “the unresolved issue of rampant killing of defenseless people, including innocent and vulnerable children and women, in various parts of the country, calls for a sober reflection and more concerted efforts by the National Assembly to exploit all our constitutional powers and privileges to ensure the protection of lives and property in the entire country by the security agencies.”