The Senate on Tuesday took a strong exception to weekend’s killing of farmers in Borno State by Boko Haram insurgents.
It castigated President Muhammadu Buhari’s government for failing to secure Nigerians and called for urgent measures to restructure the security architecture.
The nation’s foremost lawmaking organ put the death toll of the Borno killings at 67, up from 43, whose bodies were buried on Sunday.
The Senate also heard how Boko Haram has seized the rural areas of Borno State where the insurgents collect dues from citizens.
Senator Kashim Shettima, Borno State’s immediate past governor, sponsored the motion whose content was passed wholly by senators.
It will now be sent to the President as the Senate’s resolution on the matter.
The highlights of the titled: Beheading of 67 farmers in Borno by Boko Haram insurgents: need for urgent decisive action,”
*Sack of service chiefs
*Violation of Section 14(1) of the Constitution which stipulates that security and welfare is the primary purpose of government.
*A probe of widespread allegations of corruption and leakages within the security structure
*Immediate restructuring and remodeling of security architecture
*Exploring multilateral and bilateral options of partnership with neigbouring nations of Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
*Recruit at least 10,000 Civilian JTF to complement efforts of the armed forces.
*Provide proper welfare for security personnel fighting in the frontline.
*Address the immediate and remote causes of insecurity in the country.
The Senate said: “If the President insists that the security chiefs are doing their work well, the logical implication is that the President himself as the Commander-in-Chief of the country, has failed in his most rudimentary assignment of securing the nation.
“Protecting the lives and property of citizens is the primary obligation of government and any government that cannot discharge this basic obligation loses any iota of legitimacy,” it added.
Shettima said he got the latest death toll from the attack from residents of Kwashabe village in Zabamari where the killings took place.
It said machinery must be put in place to ensure that all resources meant and deployed for security are actually spent on the needs on ground.
It also urged the President “to take immediate steps to restructure, remodel and revamp the country’s entire security architecture and provide enough state-of-the-art weapons and equipment to effectively combat the belligerent power of the insurgents”
The Senate enjoined the Federal Government “to aggressively explore multilateral and bilateral options of partnership with the neighbouring nations of Chad, Niger and Cameroons towards, reviving and strengthening the Multi-national Joint Task Force and finding a lasting solution to the scourge of insurgency in the Lake Chad region.”
It asked the Federal Government to “as a matter of urgency, recruit at least 10,000 Civilian JTF, versatile with the local terrain in Borno as Agro-Rangers under the aegis of the NCDSC to complement the efforts of the Nigerian Armed Forces.”
Some of the resolutions of the Senate are as follows: “Urge the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to immediately initiate a transitionary process of phasing out the current over-stayed security chiefs and replacing them with new ones with new ideas and solutions.
In his lead debate, the former governor of Borno State lamented that over 40,000 people have been killed in the last 10 years by insurgents.
He added that over 2.5 million people had been displaced while thousands of security operatives have lost their lives.
According to him, about 2,800 attacks have been carried out in Borno State since January.
He said insurgents are now in charge of governance in major rural areas, collecting levies, killing and abducting citizens at will.
Shettima said: “Last weekend’s beheading happened about 20 kilometers from Maiduguri.
“Boko Haram insurgents are virtually ruling all our rural areas.
“They kill and abduct people at will. They’re targeting farmers and this will create hunger in the North.
“Government officials keep saying that Boko Haram has been technically defeated. This claim is not true.
“If we allow the terrorists to take over the Northeast, that is capable of metamorphosing into something larger.”
Senator Ahmed Baba Kaita representing (Katsina North) said the actions of President Buhari have failed to produce any result so far.
He said while the President may have tried, but more needs to be done.
He added that if urgent steps are not taken, insurgents may overrun the country. He said the military must be investigated and made to account for the huge funds they have been receiving from government to combat insurgency.
Kaita who represents Buhari’s senatorial District, said: “The time of truth has come. This situation is no longer acceptable to any Nigerian.
“We can’t be mourning our citizens in and out everyday. We can’t accept the explanation from those who should do the right thing whenever there is an attack. If the statement from Garba Shehu is true, that is very irresponsible.”
The lawmaker opined that, “We have to sit down with the military and assess the situation in the Northeast.
“Something is wrong here. If we allow this to go, we should be ready to have another attack soon. The President may be doing enough, but we are not seeing the results. More needs to be done.”
Ali Ndume, (Borno South) said soldiers fighting insurgency don’t have modern arms even as they are hardly provided with air support.
Ndume, who is chairman of Committee on the Army, said people in Borno State now pay ransom to Boko Haram members before they’re allowed to go to their farms or move around in their villages.
Ndume said: “The issue of insecurity has been there. We have lamented. Committees have been set up.
“We have sent recommendations to the President. Two reports were not implemented. There are other recommendations we have made and nothing was done. We need to take a step further. Section 14 of the Constitution is clear.
“We are just talking about the security. You pay and people don’t have the arms. I can tell you that people fighting war are sharing ammunition.
“They have no arms or proper kits. I have gone round. I have not seen a Nigerian soldier holding a new AK47.
“Last week, some people came to me in Abuja and asked for money to help them pay their dues to Boko Haram terrorists before they can harvest their crops.”
Senator Adamu Aliero (Kebbi Central) wondered why Buhari refused to visit Borno after the attacks, opted to send a delegation.
Aliero said: “President Buhari should have gone to Borno State and not to send a delegation.
“We have lost lives in every part of the country. The story is the same. We have done what we should do.
“The Army is overstretched. We budget billions every year. We have failed in securing Nigeria.
“We need to probe and know what’s happening. Service Chiefs have outlived their usefulness.”
Senate President Ahmad Lawan said excuses will no longer be tolerated.
He said the resolutions of the Senate must be implemented by the Executive.
Lawan said: “This is not the first or the second case of insecurity in the country. We will take additional steps and insist that our resolutions are implemented. These are recommendations the Executive must implement.
“This is one thing that will gladden the hearts of Nigerians when implemented. Enough of excuses.
“People who have nothing to add should be showed the way out. We need people who can do the job. Nothing is more important to Nigerians than security.”