The House of Representatives on Wednesday invited President Muhammadu Buhari to appear before it to explain the actions he had taken to halt killings in the country.
The House members, who debated the incessant killings by herdsmen in Benue State and other parts of the country, said the unending attacks had confirmed that Buhari’s administration had “failed.”
The House asked the President to deploy full military presence in Benue State “within 24 hours to smoke out killer herdsmen for prosecution.”
It also resolved that the killer herdsmen should be declared as “terrorists.”
In addition, members agreed to shut down legislative duties for three days in protest against the unending killings in the country.
The motion to invite Buhari was moved by an All Progressives Congress member from Kano State, Mr. Bashir Baballe.
It was passed in a unanimous voice vote.
The Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, presided over Wednesday’s session.
Baballe said, “We should summon Mr. President, he is the chief security officer of this country.
“What has Mr. President been doing to address all these security challenges? We need to know. I move that we should summon Mr. President.”
He was seconded by another APC member from Yobe State, Mr. Goni Bukar, before the prayer was passed by members.
The lawmakers came to the conclusion after information got to them that 22 more persons had again been massacred in Benue State by herdsmen in Guma and Daudu communities on Wednesday.
This was barely 24 hours after 19 worshippers, including two Catholic priests, were gunned down during an early morning funeral Mass in the Ayar Mbalom, Gwer-East Local Government Area of the state on Tuesday.
A torrent of condemnation followed a motion on urgent public importance moved by a member from Benue State, Mr. Mark Terseer-Gbillah, to bring to the attention of the House, an earlier attack on Nakka by soldiers on April 19.
Terseer-Gbillah, a member of the APC, recalled how the soldiers torched houses and killed two villagers to avenge the death of a soldier, believed to have been murdered by unknown persons in the area.
He informed the House that while the people of Benue had yet to come to terms with the incident, the killing of the priests and 17 worshippers occurred.
Terseer-Gbillah added that just before he came for the Wednesday’s session, he got fresh reports that 22 more villagers had been killed.
“Mr. Speaker, as we speak, what we heard is that another 22 lives have been taken this morning in Daudu, Guma.
“It will appear that war has been declared on Benue State, he added.
The member representing Makurdi/Guma Federal Constituency, Mr. Dickson Takighir, also spoke on the latest killing.
“Mr. Speaker, they have killed 22 persons again this morning in Guma. It is most unfortunate that this is happening to us in this country,” he said.
Nearly all the speakers on Wednesday concluded that the Buhari administration had failed to secure the lives and property of Nigerians from the rampaging herdsmen.
A member from Kaduna State, Mr. Hassan Shekarau, pointed out that many states in the country were “under siege” from herdsmen and bandits.
He named Taraba, Benue, Kwara, Plateau, Kaduna, Zamfara, Kogi and Nasarawa as some of the states under siege.
“The government of the day has failed us. Today, the road to Birnin Gwari has been closed due to insecurity,” Shekarau stated.
A Peoples Democratic Party member from Kogi State, Mr. Karimi Sunday, observed that a government that was incapable of safeguarding the lives of citizens had lost its relevance.
“You will agree with me that the government has failed in upholding Section 14(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), where it says that the security and welfare of the state is the primary responsibility of government.
“What we see every day is bloodletting and killings. We cannot continue this way. Mr. President has failed and there is anarchy all over the land,” he added.
A similar position was canvassed by an APC member from Borno State, Mr. Mohammed Sheriff.
He said, “The killings are alarming and the killers should be treated as terrorists.”
The Chairman, House Committee on Human Rights, Mr. Edward Pwajok, SAN, expressed fears over the religious dimension the attacks by the herdsmen had taken in Benue State.
Pwajok, an APC member from Plateau State, noted that attacking Catholic priests was a dimension that “may consume all of us if we continue to sit, watch and do nothing.”
The Chairman, House Committee on Rules/Business, Mr. Orker Jev, and another PDP member, Mr. Henry Ofongo, recalled how the Federal Government wasted no time in declaring members of the Indigenous People of Biafra as terrorists.
Ofongo stated, “It is so sad that life means nothing to this administration. IPOB members, who did not kill innocent citizens, were declared as terrorists.
“Why is it difficult for President Buhari to declare the herdsmen as terrorists and treat them the way terrorists are treated?”
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, said the House earlier summoned the service chiefs, but saw that the killings escalated after the service chiefs left the National Assembly.
“So, we have invited Mr. President himself to hear from him. It would appear that some of his security chiefs are not carrying out his orders.
“The invitation is meant to hear from Mr. President, first-hand, what he is doing about the security situation of our country,” Namdas added.
Nigerians knock President, CAN orders protests
The killing of two Catholic priests and 17 other worshippers in Benue State on Tuesday attracted more condemnations on Wednesday with the Christian Association of Nigeria directing its members to organise protests on their church premises on Sunday.
Besides CAN, some individuals and groups accused Buhari’s administration and security agencies of not doing enough to stop the killings by herdsmen.
CAN President, Rev. Olasupo Ayokunle, in a statement on Wednesday, urged Christians to hold peaceful protests on their church premises on Sunday, April 29, 2018.
He said, “CAN urges Christians in Nigeria to hold peaceful protests on the set aside date, on the premises of their churches, asking the Federal Government and the security agencies to stop the unending killings and bloodshed in the country.
“Christians are to carry placards with inscriptions meant to address issues about killings, attacks and destruction of their property in Nigeria.
“The inscriptions on placards could read, ‘Enough of bloodshed in Nigeria,’ ‘Enough of unlawful killings in the country,’ ‘FG, Release Leah Sharibu from the bondage,’ ‘FG, Stop Herdsmen Killings,’ ‘CAN rejects FG’s poor handling of insecurity.’”
The cleric admonished the government to perform its constitutional responsibility of protecting the citizens, noting that no excuse was tenable for the bloodshed.
“CAN uses this medium to appeal to the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to mount different effective plans aimed at disarming herdsmen across the country in national interest,” the statement added.
He also called on the heads of security agencies to wake up to their constitutional role of protecting lives and property.
A civil society organisation, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria said Buhari’s administration kept watching helplessly as the herdsmen killed Nigerians.
HURIWA National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement on Wednesday, said the international community must not watch Nigeria as “these crimes of epic proportions by armed Fulani herdsmen are going on.”
Jihad declared on Northern Christians – CAN Youth
The National President of Youth Wing of Christian Association of Nigeria, Mr. Daniel Kadzai, on Wednesday said the killings were a declaration of Jihad as they had been occurring in the Christian-dominated communities in the North, particularly in Benue and Taraba states.
Kadzai, in an interview with journalists on Wednesday said the government was aware of the alleged perpetrators of the killings.
He said, “The Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, said that it is a farmer-herdsmen clash. The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, said it is due to the blockage of cattle routes. President Buhari told his foreign host that it is fighters from Libya that are carrying out the genocide against Nigerian Christians.
“The questions are: if they are fighters from Libya, why is the President not declaring them terrorists? The different narrations of the security chiefs on the killings are clear testimonies that this government is shielding the jihadists,” he said.
Also, the Spiritual Father and Chairman, Cherubim & Seraphim Movement Church World Wide, (Ayo ni o), Most Rev. Samuel Abidoye, urged the President to secure lives and property in Nigeria.
In an interview with The PUNCH, Abidoye said, “Buhari should ensure that security is restored in the country.”
Set up panel, ACF tells govt
The pan-northern group, the Arewa Consultative Forum, has advised the Federal Government to set up a panel of inquiry into the incessant killings in the northern part of the country.
The ACF, in a statement by its National Publicity Security, Alhaji Muhammad Biu, described the killing in Benue as most callous.
It said that the perpetrators of the heinous act must be fished out and brought to book to serve as a deterrent to others.
The forum said, “The ACF urges the Federal Government to set up a panel of inquiry into these incessant killings with the hope that amicable solution would be found for common good.”
‘Nigeria drifting towards anarchy’
The Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, said on Wednesday that Nigeria was drifting towards a state of anarchy and called on the international community to intervene and rescue the country from turning into a war zone.
The governor said the killing of 17 worshippers and two priests in Benue State; the President’s withdrawal of $496m from the Excess Crude Account without approval of the National Assembly and the arrest of Senator Dino Melaye were indications that all was not well.
In a statement Fayose said, “If half of the level aggressiveness being shown by the police on the arrest of Senator Dino Melaye because of seeming concocted allegations is shown on the killings by herdsmen in the country, the rampaging killer herdsmen would have been brought under control…
“When did Nigeria degenerate to the level that people can no longer worship peacefully in their churches or go to their farms? When did Nigeria become a state of anomie where people are killed even after raising the alarm that there was threat to their existence?”
On the illegal withdrawal of $496m from the Excess Crude Account, Fayose said, “One day, this Federal Government will even stop releasing statutory allocations to states and local councils.”
Nigeria sliding dangerously – Secondus, PDP
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Prince Uche Secondus, and the party also advised the President to halt the “senseless killings in the country” before they degenerated into a national crisis.
Secondus in a condolence message to the Benue State Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, said, “From whichever angle you are witnessing what is happening in this country, one thing is agreeable: that this country is sliding dangerously.
“Nigerians and the global community have continued to watch as all the tenets of democracy are being eroded for dictatorial tendencies.”
He alerted the nation and the international community to what he described as the choreographed tension in the land being designed by the APC administration to abuse democratic process and the rule of law ahead of the 2019 general election.
He said, “I find it inexplicable that some group of gunmen should hold a state to ransom.”
Also, the PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said the Tuesday Benue killing was sacrilegious.
He said that the former ruling party was also worried about the unabated killings in Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa, Kogi, Zamfara, Plateau, Borno, Adamawa and other parts of the country.
On its part, the Muslim Rights Concern, in a statement by its Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, urged the police to bring those responsible for the Benue killing to book.
A retired Commissioner of Police, Emeka Ojukwu, said security agencies had not done enough to curb the killings by the herdsmen.
Also, the Nasrul-Lahi-L-Fatih Society on Wednesday called for the punishment of those responsible for killings in the country within the ambit of the law.
NASFAT President, Kamil Bolarinwa, in a statement, said the killings were a drawback to the success recorded in the fight against Boko Haram members.
“Anyone who breaks the law should be dealt with within the ambit of the law, regardless of his race, tribe or religion,” he added.
We’ll end the killings, says Army
An entourage of the Nigerian Army, led by the General Officer Commanding, 82 Division, Maj. Gen. Adamu Abubakar, visited Naka on Wednesday, assuring the residents that the army would end the killings and protect their lives and property.
The GOC in a statement added, “I am in the state on the instructions of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, to interact with the field commanders and other heads of security agencies in Benue State with the aim of getting further credible situation report on the rising security challenges in the state with a view to checkmating the problems. I wish to inform you that I am visiting Naka village where there was reported security breach.