President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, like his counterpart in the Lower House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has weighed in on the killings in the country, but has given police boss, Inspector-General Idris Ibrahim, based on the resolution of the Senate, 14 days to arrest the perpetrators of the latest Benue killings that claimed 73 lives.
He noted that the Senate’s debate on the clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Benue and other states has shown that it is not religious-based, but a breakdown of law and order in that part of the country.
His words: “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,” he said.
“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 minimum requirement and it must happen”, he said.
Saraki continued that : “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”, the Senate President.
“The President must act, and those responsible for this must be held accountable. There must also be long term solutions. Part of this long term solution should be left for members of the committee on security to make objective suggestions.
“The military cannot be the solution all the time. This is because sometimes they are overstretched and that has its own impact and problem. In this regard, we are hoping that the committee urgently comes up with the recommendation to us on what we need to do to strengthen the police, apart from more man-power. Is it community policing? Is it state policing? We need to know.
“Something must be done in this area, but more importantly we have condemned this killings but we must begin to take concrete steps to re-assure Nigerians we are not here to just talk. All those who are responsible must know that this kind of incident should never happen again, going forward”, he said.
Former President of the Senate and the Senator representing Benue South, Senator David Mark, commended his successor, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on his timely directive to the Senate Ad hoc Committee on Security Infrastructure to cut short its recess and investigate the New Year killings in Benue state.
Mark, who gave the commendation while contributing to the debate on the interim report of the committee submitted to the Senate, also lauded the Senator Ahmad Lawan-led committee for its prompt response to the directive of the Senate President.
The retired General urged security agencies to fish out the perpetrators of the heinous crimes and their sponsors as an immediate step towards addressing the clashes between the herdsmen and farmers in the state.
He said, “Mr. President, there are several recommendations towards addressing these clashes. In the interim, the best way is to arrest the sponsors since the Governor of Benue State said the government has identified the sponsors.
“The long term recommendations of the committee on cattle colony, ranching and others are still good but they can not be implemented now. The best way to save life in the interim is to arrest the sponsors since they have been identified. Saving a life now is as good as saving the situation and preventing it from degenerating further.”
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, stated that all Nigerians are worried about the killings across the nation.
“The Senate is not the only group or body concerned, Nigerians are also worried,” the Deputy Senate President said, “We are tired of always observing a minute silence, we must have peace and security before even thinking of infrastructure and development in the country.”
“We should revisit the constitution review where we can start State policing and community policing so as to curb these kind of internal mayhem,” said the Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio.
The Chief Whip, Senator Sola Adeyeye, stated that all Nigerians needed to rise above religion in putting an end to the killings. While Senator Shehu Sani, urged the President to suppress the killings across the country on a long term scale — not just for the particular incident.
“There is no reason why these things are happening, and we have an Attorney General of the Federation, yet no single prosecution,” said Senator Ibn Na’Allah, the Deputy Senate Leader. Na’Allah also commended the Senate President, for setting up the committee to review Nigeria’s security infrastructure for better performance.
Senator Andy Uba, representing Anambra South, called for community police to curb future killings.
“The issue was on CNN which means it is becoming a national embarrassment,” Senator Uba said, “If setting up state police is difficult — we should look into setting up community policing system instead.”