Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki saturday in Ilorin, Kwara state capital called for drastic action from both the National Assembly and the Presidency to address the current spate of incessant killings in parts of the country that had claimed the lives of many Nigerians.Recollecting the recent wanton destruction of lives in Plateau state, Saraki frowned on the unfortunate incidents, while expressing deep displeasure and added that the National Assembly under his leadership would not shy away from its responsibilities.
Saraki spoke with newsmen in Ilorin after an assessment tour of some ecological-prone areas in the metropolis.
He said, “As you know very much so, that the National Assembly under my leadership many months ago had seen the danger. We had called for security summit to address the issue of security architecture.
“We had seen the need for us to review the security structure. We had invited service chiefs on the matter. You are all very aware that some service chiefs decided in their own wisdom that there is no need for them to work with the National Assembly to address these issues.
“We are beginning to see the wisdom in some of the things we were saying. We have always stood for what is believed is good for this country. We always politicise everything in this country.
“There is no society that continues to experience incessant killings as it is and then we think it is business as usual. It requires drastic action. It requires collective collaboration of all agencies and all arms of government for us to be serious.
“We on our part at the national assembly; we will not get frustrated but we have been sounding this alarm. A society where gunmen could go in, shoot for seven hours and nobody is caught. That is not a normal society,” Saraki lamented.
He noted that, “As we resume we will continue on our part as parliament to ensure that those who have the responsibility of protecting lives and property are accountable to the people. It cannot continue; it is not something to be politicised.
“If somebody is not capable he should give way for others that are competent. We have heard that security personnel are working at cross purposes. A is not talking to B and B is not talking to C. They don’t attend meetings jointly. Things need to be done.
“Let us forget about party; these are people’s lives. It is not about the Speaker of House of Representatives or the Senate President; it is about Nigeria. The sooner we see that and address this, the better. More of these could have been prevented since we have been shouting about this.
“Until we sit down all of us both the presidency and legislature to thrash out the issues. We must discuss the issues. Something needs to be done. Something is wrong. This cannot continue.”
On the issues of recent flood victims in the state, the former governor of Kwara state said: “Some of these issues have been long-standing. My office has been going round to offer palliative measures to those that have been displaced to go back to their homes.
“We are talking about both short and long term solutions. We are hopeful to bring succour to them and find permanent solutions to the menace.
“There are lots of environmental and ecological issues that affect us as a country. We have to continue to manage within the resources that we have to address them and whenever the funds are available they should be efficiently utilised,” he added.
In a related development, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara has commiserated with the people of Plateau state following the recent wave of violence which engulfed communities in the state which claimed about 200 people.
Speaking during a condolence visit to the state, Speaker Dogara described the sad occurrence as a collective loss not just to the affected communities and families, but to the country as a whole.
A statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Hassan Turaki, further hinted that the lower chamber will debate the killings on the House floor when it resumes from a three-week break next week.
He said: “I know that in difficult moments like this when you’re dealing with tragedies that involve collective loss it’s always difficult to cope in the sense that in most cases bereavement has been individualised. People tend to deal with the bereavement on individual basis but this is something that involves collective loss, not only to the people of Plateau State, but across Nigeria as a whole. I know that the wounds will still be fresh and deep, because tragedies of this scale leave scars.
“When events like these happen, the tendency is to ask what the government is doing about it. I had cause to have an interface with the President, in company of the Senate President, and he has assured that the affected communities will be rebuilt. He has even directed NEMA to take census of what has happened and present the implication to him for approval. He also talked about looking at the security architecture to see what can be done in order to ensure that we do not have a repeat of this type of tragedy.”
He further warned of the grave danger which unchecked violence portends for the country and restated the commitment of the House to working seamlessly with the Executive to combat insecurity, while using legislative tools such as appropriation to ensure adequate funding for security agencies.
Dogara said: “I’ve always repeated the point that we cannot afford to lose the fight against violence and still maintain our democracy and civilisation, it’s impossible. Whatever it takes, we have to defeat violence. Because if we do not, we may think now it is affecting only Plateau and some selected states in Nigeria but unfortunately, mayhem like these can lead to chaos on a national scale. It may lead to a scale that may even play out outside the territory known as Nigeria, with international implications. It is therefore our collective responsibility to ensure this doesn’t occur again, and if we’re determined, we’ll be able to stamp it out.
“As a leader in the National Assembly, I want to say from the bottom of my heart because of the teeming people who put us in office, that we are willing and ready to work with the security agencies and the Executive to provide whatever is necessarily needed to end this mayhem across Nigeria, wherever it is in the North or South, and to provide support and funding through appropriation to be able to deal with this challenge that is a serious threat to us all.”
Dogara also called for wider consultations and coordinated efforts to restore peace.
According to him: “Working for peace is really not easy; it should involve the government, faith-based organisations, the Church and its builders, leaders from the Islamic faith, community-based organisations and leaders, and if we’re finding it difficult, nothing stops us from calling for assistance from the international community in order to deal with this problem.”
He noted that the people of Plateau state are widely acclaimed for being peaceful and urged those who lost loved ones to the violence to not resort to self-help by engaging in retaliatory attacks.
The statement added: “One thing the people of Plateau have been known for is being peace-loving, as the motto is home of peace and tourism. We shouldn’t allow these deep and fresh wounds or scars that the crisis is leaving behind to turn us into what we are not. In most cases when events like these happen, because we’re all human, the tendency is for one to seek revenge or retaliate; we should however always look to the future.”
Governor Simon Lalong, in his remarks, thanked members of the National Assembly for their concern regarding the insecurity in the state. He lamented the resurgence of violence following more than three years of uninterrupted peace and pledged the commitment of his administration to restoring harmony.
The speaker in company of members of the House of Representatives paid condolence visit to the Gbong Gwom Jos, Da Jacob Gyang Buba and also visited victims of the violence who are receiving treatment at the Jos University Teaching Hospital.
Meanwhile, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the presidency of trying to politicise the killing of innocent people in Plateau state.
The party described as diversionary, allegations by the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) that it sponsored the killings in Plateau State as callous, wicked and obtrusive.
In a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP advised the BMO to stop its hallucinations and tell its principal, President Muhammadu Buhari, to live up to the responsibility of his office by stopping the bloodletting and callous murder of innocent citizens in various parts of our country.
PDP also described as unfortunate and highly condemnable that members of the BMO, if truly they are citizens of Nigeria, could seek to politicise the gruesome killings of compatriots in Plateau and other states, instead of confronting President Buhari and charging him to live up to his billing or assisting him in finding solution to the gruesome daily bloodlettings.
“The BMO, out of frustration of its inability to further beguile Nigerians into believing that Buhari is our 21st Century Messiah, is resorting to baseless, lame and political accusations against the PDP,” it said.
PDP said the “BMO has further confirmed the fears of Nigerians that the Buhari administration is groping and has no concrete plans or strategy to apprehend the killers, safeguard the lives of our citizens and protect the territorial integrity of our dear nation.
“We, therefore, urge Nigerians to note the desperate, concerted and sustained moves by the Buhari Presidency, as well as, its chorus boys to politicise the killings and engage in utterances that tend to derail investigations, provide cover for culprits and scuttle efforts by security agencies to apprehend those behind the dastardly act.
“Nigerians may recall that on June 25, 2018, immediately the news of the Plateau killing broke, the Presidency, before any security investigation, issued a release wherein it attempted to offer explanations on the killings and tried to blame some persons it referred to as ‘locals’.
“On Thursday June 28, while Nigerians were mourning and urging security agencies to track down the killers, the Presidency, without exhibiting any form of empathy to the bereaved, issued yet another statement, attempting to politicise the killings by making morbid comparisons of those killed under various administrations and stating that “wanton killings had been with us for a while”, a comment that tended to weaken the morale of the security officers.
“Nigerians may further recall that President Buhari had, in March this year, directed that anybody who attempted to play politics with the handling of security would be dealt with. We now wonder why his presidency and support group have resorted to attempts to politicise the Plateau killings, a development that has raised suspicions that they have something to hide”, the party stated.
It urged security agencies to invite the members of the BMO to provide information as principal witnesses to the carnage that have taken place across the nation.