The Senate has given the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mr Ibrahim Idris 14 days ultimatum to arrest and investigate the perpetrators of Benue killings.
This position was sequel to the consideration of a report of the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of the Current Security Infrastructure in Nigeria.
The committee had on Friday last week, visited Benue to ascertain the level of killings in the state.
The report was presented by Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Ahmed Lawan during plenary on Tuesday.
He said the recommendations of the committee included re-examining, revamping and reinventing the nation’s security architecture and infrastructure in order to ensure that no community or entity was left unsecured and unsafe.
Lawan who is also the Senate Leader said other recommendations are for the Senate to convene as a matter of utmost urgency a national security summit.
He said the committee recommended that government should examine the recurring violence and mayhem visited on rural communities before they become an existential threat to national cohesion and national survival.
“The Federal Government should examine the deployment of security personnel in our rural communities and borders to ensure that no one gets in or out of the country without proper documentation and regular surveillance.
“The Federal Government should ensure full compliance with the letter and spirit of the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of persons, cattle and goods with a view to ensuring that it is administered strictly to preserve the interests, safety and security of Nigeria and its people.
“The Federal Government should immediately re-examine the current deployment of security forces, particularly the Police, DSS and Civil Defence Corp, etc. in order to strengthen their presence in the rural areas,” he said.
He said government should beef up and re-strategise its deployment of security intelligence capabilities with a view to obtaining actionable intelligence about impending attacks and plots in order to forestall and prevent the recurrence of rural violence and inter-ethnic conflagrations.
“The Federal and Benue State Government should ensure that all those living in IDP camps are properly catered for and the burnt infrastructure in their communities are properly rebuilt to enable the people return and resume their normal lives.
“The government through the Ministry of Agriculture should as a matter of urgency convene a special National Council on Agriculture meeting to deliberate on the development and modernization of Nigeria’s livestock and dairy industry.”
In an additional prayer Sen. Philip Aduda (PDP-FCT) said the President of the Senate should meet with President Muhammadu Buhari with the recommendations for immediate implementation to douse the tension in the country.
The prayer was supported by Sen. Kabiru Gaya (APC-Kano)
In his contribution, the Deputy President of the Senate,Mr Ike Ekweremadu said “the killings that is going on in Nigeria are assuming an alarming proportion and very disturbing.”
He said as a responsible parliament, the senate must rise to the occasion by saying “enough is enough”.
“I don’t expect us to sit down here and not do anything. Nigerians expect us not only to say something but do something.
“I believe that the recommendations of the Senate Leader would be of great help in addressing these problems.
“Nigerians are not only worried but the international community are also worried.”
He, however, stressed the need for social contract which hinged on security and welfare of the citizenry.
Similarly, Sen. David Mark (PDP-Benue South) said this was a national issue.
“Presently, there is no intelligence transmission between the herders, villages and the government or if there is, government is not proactive, government is not acting on intelligence.
“Nigeria is not the country with the largest cattle in the world. There are modern ways of doing things and we must grow with time. We cannot be operating on archaic system.”
On his part, Sen. Shehu Sani(APC-Kaduna) cautioned against viewing the crisis from religious and ethnic perspectives, adding “if you are faced with a crisis and you use ethnic or religious lenses to view it, you will see a religious, ethnic or sectional image.
“This is not the time for diplomacy and courtesy. This is the time to provide leadership for a nation that is in national emergency and national distress,” Sani said.
He said there must be a clear distinction between armed herdsmen who must be confronted frontally and Fulani cattle rearers.
Also speaking, Sen. Mao Ohuabunwa (PDP-Abia) attributed the killings to lack of jobs in the country.
He urged the Federal Government to pass the Peace Corps bill into law for intelligence gathering at the grassroots.
In his remarks, President of the Senate Dr Bukola Saraki noted that the Senate’s debate on the clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Benue and other states had shown that it was not religious-based.
“It was a breakdown of law and order in that part of the country.
“I commend my Distinguished Colleagues for their sincerity and patriotism during this debate. This killing is also a wake up call for all of us to put all hands on deck to address this crisis.
“We want to see immediate action. One point raised here today is the issue of justice. Without justice we cannot see unity and that justice stands as one of our recommendations.
“In the next 14 days, the Inspector General of Police must find the perpetrators, arrest them, and the Attorney General of Benue State must prosecute them. That is the minimum requirement and it must happen,” he said.
“Our resolution is that some of our discussions here need to be conveyed to Mr. President. We appreciate his actions for calling us and giving us a brief on what has happened. Hence, we owe it to him to tell him what we have discussed and the seriousness with which we have taken the issue.
“It is a wake up call for him and it is a wake up call for us. It is a wake–up call for this government. We must address the issue of security. We cannot continue to allow this violence to keep going on from one state to another. Therefore, something needs to be done,” Saraki said.