Senate to Buhari: Declare bandits as terrorists with total war
*Urges bombing of their locations
*Seeks arrest, prosecution of their leaders
*Over 60, 000 flee to Niger Republic
By Peter Usman://
Senate yesterday took a major step towards addressing the rising insecurity in Nigeria when it called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to “declare the bandits ravaging the country as terrorists and wage total war against them, including bombing all their locations to annihilate and eliminate them.”
The upper legislative chamber also asked the President to “declare all the known leadership of the bandits wanted and track them wherever they are for arrest and prosecution”.
These formed part of the resolutions reached yesterday by the Senate following a motion, “Banditry in Sokoto State particularly Sokoto East Senatorial District” sponsored by Senator Ibrahim Gobir and eight other lawmakers during plenary.
The Senate also directed the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA and other relevant federal government agencies to, as a matter of urgency, give all the necessary support to the victims of the menace of banditry in Sokoto and other parts of the country.
Leading debate on the motion via Orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Rules, Gobir lamented that “Sokoto East Senatorial District has now become a safe haven for bandits due to the current crackdown taking place in Zamfara State.”
According to him, on Saturday, September 25, no fewer than 21 security personnel were killed in Dama and Gangara villages by rampaging bandits,
including 15 soldiers, three Mobile Police and another three from the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC as well as yet to be ascertain number of civilians from the neighbouring villages.
“This has gone to portray the seriousness of the problem which requires concerted and urgent action by the declaration of total war on banditry,” he said.
Senator Gobir expressed worry that losing such number of trained security personnel will further deplete the numerical strength of security agencies in the country.
While lamenting that most of the bandits have now relocated to Sabon Rimi and Isa Local Government due to the sustained military operations at Zamfara axis, he said this has made Sokoto the new haven for the bandits.
He, however, advised that the present military onslaught on the bandits should be extended to other states like Sokoto, Katsina, Niger and Kaduna also being ravaged by the criminals instead of being restricted to Zamfara in order to produce effective and the desired results.
Speaking to journalists after plenary, Gobir said over 60, 000 people who fled various communities in the state, especially Gangara which is now an empty community, are now in Niger Republic.
Contributing, Senator Uche Ekwunife (PDP Anambra Central) decried the rising state of banditry and other forms of insecurity across the country.
She said governments must rise up to its primary responsibility of protecting lives and properties.
The lawmaker also said it was time for President Buhari and the executive arm of government to address the nation on the rising trend of insecurity in the country.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, commended the efforts of the Armed Forces in the sustained fight against insecurity in the country.
While calling for increased funding for the military, the Senate President tasked relevant committees of the National Assembly to ensure that funds appropriated to the armed forces are judiciously applied for the purpose for which they are budget.