Following the deadly attacks in Benue and other states, the House of Representatives on Tuesday called on the federal government to declare a state of emergency on security, a report by Premium Times has shown.
In a motion by Babatunde Kolawole (Ekiti – PDP) and Benue state caucus of the House led by the member representing Guma/Makurdi federal constituency, Dickson Tarkhighir, the house mandated an ad hoc committee to conduct a public hearing to hear from both sides and proffer a lasting solution.
While presenting the motion, Mr. Kolawole said scores of farmers have been killed in attacks, including women and children, a development that has brought a great sense of insecurity and distrust among ethnic groups, thus raising a spectre of instability in the country.
He also listed the possible outcomes of insecurity.
“That incessant attacks on farmers and farming communities will ultimately result in food shortages, artificial scarcity and hampering of the drive of the Federal Government to diversify the nation’s economy through agriculture,” he said.
Also speaking on behalf of the Benue caucus, Mr. Tarkighir called on the federal government to show commitment to the Benue State’s anti open-grazing law by compelling relevant security agencies to comply with the enforcement and implementation of the law.
“The federal government should direct the security agencies to not only secure peace but also bring the culprits to book,” he said.
Earlier during the plenary, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, condemned the killings in Benue and some parts of the country, describing it as “senseless”.
“From the senseless killings in Rivers State, to the killing rampages in Benue, Taraba, Kaduna, Zamfara, Adamawa, Edo and other States, our dear country is now being painted red with the blood of the innocents on account of unremitting bedlam callously promoted by cold hearted merchants of death,” he said.
He commiserated with the families of the deceased and affected states.
“I wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to the governments, people, and especially families of those who have lost loved ones in these primitive, mindless and despicable rounds of bloodletting across our dear country,” he added.
Over 70 residents were killed when suspected herdsmen invaded villages in Logo and Guma Local Government Areas in Benue State earlier in January. The violence has been linked to the recent passage of the anti-grazing law by the state.
The attackers also ambushed a police patrol team and killed three officers on January 8.
The state government conducted a mass burial for the victims in a village near the Air Force Base in Makurdi, the state capital, on January 12.
As part of his administration’s response to the incidents, President Muhammadu Buhari on January 9 ordered the immediate relocation of Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris to Benue.
Mr. Idris, who arrived the state on January 11, said he had deployed over 660 police officers in more than 10 units across the state, promising to deploy additional officers to five more units in the coming days.
Security agencies ‘lackadaisical’
Meanwhile, Dino Melaye, the All Progressives Congress senator for Kogi West, Tuesday lamented what he called the slow response by the Federal Government and security agencies to the killings in Benue State.
Mr. Melaye criticised the response by the political and security authorities at the senate plenary while speaking on a motion on ‘Security Infrastructure in Nigeria; An Emergency Visit to Benue State’.
“Mr. President, this is the voice of a human witness of Nigeria calling for justice. Mr. President, what happened in Benue State has shown like never before that in this country, we live in perilous times. We live in times where justice is the most scarce commodity in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“What we demand is not a lackadaisical approach from the Federal Government. This issue has been approached with kid gloves. If this happens in the United States of America, the lives of over 70 Americans murdered in cold blood including unborn children and women, will President Trump be comfortable in the White House without paying critical attention to psychologically assuage the pain of the people?
“The Federal Government, the security agencies are extremely lackadaisical about the issue. If we don’t begin to give justice where it is needed in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, be it in Taraba or in Benue, be it in Enugu or Ogbomosho. Justice from North to South, from East to West, if we don’t give justice, we will be inviting a political and insecurity tsunami that we may not be able to curtail,” he said.
Mr. Melaye called on President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Senate to “ring the bell of justice” and demanded that reports from committees set up to investigate the killings be implemented.
“The president must be tough enough to take bold decisions on this matter. While I do not support killings on any side, I want to say without fear or favor, that cattle rearing is a personal business. It is a personal business and should be treated as such.”