Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, says there is no going back on the planned creation of regional security outfit in the south-south.
Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, governor Okowa said regardless of some criticisms trailing the move, he and his colleagues will not be deterred by some negative comments.
According to him, the governors decided to create the outfit to address the security challenges facing the region for the overall good of the people.
“The fact is that whatever you do, even when you mean the best for our state and the best for this nation, you always have a statement of people turning it into politics and some people will want to criticise you.
“But as governors, ours is to do things in the best interests of the states and in the best interest in the larger majority of the people. We cannot stop people from playing politics out of whatever we do.
“We are not going to be deterred by the criticisms of some group of people. We are elected as governors to do the best we can to secure our people and to bring development to our people,” he stated.
Speaking further, the Delta State helmsman noted that the regional governors do not need to seek permission from anybody or group before carrying out their constitutional responsibility.
He believes that following a joint meeting, there is an urgent “need to share a security approach. There is a need to support the security agencies – the police, military with the civilian outfit so that collaboratively, we can truly become more efficient.”
Okowa’s comment comes shortly after the Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators (CNDA) warned the South-South governors against establishing a regional security outfit.
In a statement, the group accused the governors of having an ulterior political motive behind the move for the outfit.
The Commission, according to the governors, will harmonise policies that would drive the economic cooperation and integration and set member states on a path for rapid economic growth and development.
Similarly, the governors called on the Federal Government to deduct the thirteen per cent derivation from the source before allocation to states.
“And we need to stress that in any allocation that is being done, 13 per cent derivation must first be taken out of the funds that come from oil revenue before the rest of the funds is shared out,” Okowa said.
On the outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), the governors called for a meeting of health commissioners in the region to map out preventive measures.
The Oyo State House of Assembly has passed the bill establishing the state security network agency, code named Operation Amotekun into law.
The Bill was passed on Tuesday, after a presentation of the report of the House Committee on Security and Special Duties at the plenary.
Dramatically clad in attires resembling leopard skin, the House deliberated and was unanimous in its decision to pass the bill which would create a security network to collaborate and assist the police and other security agencies to maintain law and order.
After deliberations at the House, the speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly, rt. Hon. Adebo Ogundoyin said he was optimistic that the new bill would help stem the tide of banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery and other criminal acts to pave way for a prosperous state, and by extention, the entire southwest region.
The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has assured the Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, of the commitment of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) to ensuring the safety and security of the people of Niger State, working in concert with sister services and other security agencies.
The CAS made this known today, February 25, 2020, when he met with the Governor at the Government House Minna, as part of his operational visit to Niger State, which was aimed at assessing facilities emplaced at the Minna Airport to enable the effective conduct of the ongoing anti-banditry air operation code-named “Operation Gama Aiki”.
While, in Minna, the CAS also inspected facilities at the 013 Quick Response Group (013 QRG) NAF Base Minna, including the Base Medical Centre as well as the disused G-222 aircraft provided as a mock-up for anti-aircraft hijacking training, amongst others, where he mentioned that two sets of NAF personnel, who had earlier been trained in anti-aircraft hijacking, would soon be re-assembled to replicate the training locally in Minna.
Speaking during the courtesy call, Air Marshal Abubakar disclosed that the NAF would continue to work alongside other security agencies to bring succour to troubled communities in Niger State.
He stated that he had assessed facilities in the NAF Base, in preparation for the deployment of additional Regiment and Special Forces (SF) personnel to support operations in the state, whilst assuring that the air assets already deployed, including the helicopters and Alpha Jet aircraft, would continue to provide support to the Army and Police.
The CAS equally disclosed that as part of efforts of the Service to alleviate the plight of those affected by the activities of armed bandits, he had directed that a medical outreach be conducted to cater for the healthcare needs of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) at Kuta in Shiroro Local Government Area (LGA).
Air Marshal Abubakar ended his remarks by thanking the Government and people of Niger State for their continued support to the NAF.
In his response, Governor Bello, while noting that the state had gone through a very challenging period, expressed his satisfaction with the arrangements emplaced by the NAF.
He, therefore, thanked the CAS for the tremendous support provided by the deployment of air assets to add value to the Internal Security Operations in the State, especially the most vulnerable areas bordering Zamfara, Kebbi and Kaduna States.
He also commended the CAS for approving the conduct of the medical outreach to Kuta, more so that the NAF had carried out a similar outreach at Chukuba and Kwaki Communities of Shiroro LGA in June 2019.
The CAS, who was accompanied on the visit by the NAF Chief of Training and Operations NAF, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) James Gwani, the Air Secretary NAF, AVM Mahmoud Ahmed, and the Director of Logistics, AVM Ademola Durotoye, amongst other senior officers, had earlier received briefings from the Commander 013 QRG and the Air Component Commander Operation GAMA AIKI, which were held behind closed doors.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Tuesday said the Senate may consider the report of the ad-hoc committee on security challenges next week.
He gave the indication during plenary following the consideration of a motion brought to the floor by Senator Aishatu Ahmed(APC – Adamawa Central).
The Senate set up the committee chaired by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, had on January 29 to interface with the security agencies on the level of insecurity in the country and report back to the upper chamber within two weeks.
Senator Lawan promised that the Senate would engage the executive arm of government on the resolutions of the committee as contained in its report.
He added that the Senate would also work closely with the House of Representatives and Nigerians towards ensuring that solutions were found to the lingering security problems in the country.
“The Senate discussed and debated so much on the insecurity in the country and set up an ad-hoc committee under the leadership of the Senate Leader.
“The committee is working very hard; we are trying to look for solutions to the insecurity bedevilling the country. We are not going to rest on our oars until we are able to provide solutions,” the lawmaker said.
He added, “This is the essence of our being in government. Of course, it will require that we work with the House of Representatives and the Executive, as well as the citizens because I believe that the citizens have to be taken into confidence in the fight against insecurity.
“So, we will not waste any time, as soon as the report is ready, I believe by next week, we are going to look at the report of the ad-hoc committee and take those important and very viable resolutions, and engage with the executive arm of government.”
The Senate President noted that the executive and legislature were on the same page and promised that they would do whatever it takes, even if it has to do with investing huge sums in security.
“Life is more important than anything, so we need to protect the lives of Nigerians who have sent us here,” he added.
Relying on a point of order on matter of urgent public importance, Senator Ahmed decried the attacks on Gombi Local Government Area of Adamawa State where represented.
She informed her colleagues that an insurgent group armed with seven gun-trucks and motorcycles invaded the town on Friday last week.
According to the lawmaker, three soldiers were killed in the dastardly attacks, while properties worth millions of naira were burnt or destroyed including, public hospital, school, telecommunication facilities, and police stations among others.
She added that the Garkida crises, which led to the destruction of lives and propriety, was planned by the insurgents to have a religious connotation considering that churches and residences of some prominent indigenes were burnt.
Senator Ahmed described the attack as an act aimed at destroying the foundation of peaceful co-existence among Garkida community and Adamawa State as a whole.
“As a result of this, the urgent need to take more drastic actions in the face of such affront on the national security architecture, the region and indeed the entire nation is long overdue.
“In view of the enormity of the situation, the Federal Government needs to put more innovative measures in place to frontally confront these challenges,” she said.
In a three-point resolution, the Senate urged the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, to re-establish a military command base in Garkida and also all major settlements bordering the Sambisa forest.
It also called on the North East Development Commission to immediately embark on rehabilitation of public and religious institutions destroyed and provide assistance to other individuals affected.
The Senate also asked the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to urgently assess the extent of damage and provide relief materials immediately to Garkida community.
Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, believes the South East has relatively recorded the lowest incidence of security challenges compared to other regions in the country.
He stated this on Monday when he highlighted the steps being taken by governors in the region to ensure the security of the lives and properties of people in the South East.
Umahi, who is also the Chairman of the South East Governors’ Forum, spoke during his appearance on Channels Television’s breakfast programme – Sunrise Daily.
“I tell you that relatively in the whole country, South East is still better secured than any other region, and I give kudos to our governors who work day and night to ensure that this happens,” he said.
The governor decried the general security situation in the country, including the challenges of Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, and cultism among others.
He, therefore, proposed state police as the way forward to tackle the problems of security in the nation.
Governor Umahi stressed that leaders in the country must act fast to address the security challenges the nation was grappling with.
He also asked them, especially the lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives chambers of the National Assembly and other legislative houses to put the interest of the people ahead of personal interests.
The governor said, “We as a nation cannot continue to go like this, we cannot fold our hands and continue to see the lives of our people being wasted.
“This is very important; state police should be advocated for and what our leaders should know is that you don’t make a law to suit you.”
The Solution And Its Problems
He, therefore, challenged the lawmakers to take advantage of the process to review the nation’s Constitution and push for state police.
According to the governor, this will give confidence to the people because insecurity in various communities is peculiar to those communities.
He, however, explained that governors in the south-east region were being careful with the issue of state police in order not to be misunderstood.
Umahi noted that the governors were doing quite a lot but some people, including the Ohanaeze, still find it difficult to understand them.
He insisted that state police was the way to go, although it has its own problems.
The governor said, “I have not seen any governor that comes to speak about state police, every solution creates its own problems.
“You cannot totally say that state police is going to be the answer to all our insecurity, it has its own problems, but I think that is what our people need.”
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has asked leaders at all levels to do less of talking and show more action in tackling the challenges facing the country.
For Nigeria to surmount its challenges, he believes all leaders must as a matter of urgency come together to ensure that the security and welfare needs of the people are adequately met.
“As leaders, we owe the people, not only the explanation but actions,” Lawan was quoted as saying at a function in Kaduna on Monday.
He added, “Those of us in leadership positions, we know what we need to do. We need to have courage and commitment and sustain them.
“Nigeria is at a crossroad and more than ever now requires the unity of the people. The issues bedevilling Nigeria today require that all leaders, at all levels and in all parts of Nigeria, need to come together.”
The Senate President made the remarks in his speech at the 60th birthday celebration of the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai.
According to him, the nation is at a point where the provision of infrastructure alone by the government cannot sufficiently address the underlying cause of growing insecurity and illiteracy in the country.
“What we need is not only infrastructure, but we need the capacity building of the people. In this part of the country, this report has been consistent and apparently, little has been done to reverse it,” the lawmaker stated.
He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to immediately introduce policies that would return the over 13 million out-of-schoolchildren back to school to curb the rising number of illiteracy in the country.
The Senate President decried that the report of 13 million or 14 million out-of-school children mostly in the north was dangerous for the country.
He stressed that until the trend was reversed, no amount of infrastructure can prevent the social angle that would lead to serious insecurity.
Lawan urged leaders to live up to the responsibilities of their respective offices by demonstrating courage and acting expeditiously to guarantee the protection of lives and properties of citizens.
He said, “Today, we are challenged by insecurity, sadly it is all over the country.
“This requires that all of us at every level of government come together and work to ensure that lives and properties of citizens are protected.”
“The story is bad. Every day, it is either kidnapping, assassination or some kind of banditry that leaves our people and communities shattered and destroyed,” the Senate President added.
The lawmaker representing Chibok, Damboa and Gwoza, Ahmahdu Usman Jaha, has accused the Nigerian Army of negligence and complacency in securing the country.
According to Jaha, it was the failure on their path to carry out their duties that led to the killing of 30 persons in Auno, Borno State.
“Failure or inability on the part of the Nigerian Army to have a constructive listening of intelligence gathering from the DSS and other relevant informants in the community led to this attack,” he said on Wednesday at the floor of the House.
He further stated that despite receiving fillers that there was a potential attack and some of the insurgents had been sighted hours before the attack, “nobody cared to do anything”.
Jaha said the situation was a national issue and if he could give his life for peace to be restored in the northeast, he would do so, as he cannot bear to watch the continued tragedy.
“I’ve said without fear of any contradiction that I am ready to give out my life if those in the northeast can live in peace,” he said.
“The most painful thing on earth is for you to stay in your comfort zone while your constituents are dying like animals.
“So, Mr Speaker, as far as I’m concerned, this is a national issue. It happened today in Borno but only God knows where next it will happen in the 36 states of the federation because of negligence or complacency on the part of our security operatives”.
Less than two weeks after lawmakers in the House of Representatives called for the sack of the Service Chiefs, the Northern Elders Forum has also lent its voice to the call by demanding a total overhaul of the nation’s security architecture, in a bid to competently tackle all the security challenges confronting the nation.
The convener of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Professor Ango Abdullahi, said in a statement that the current government, led by President Muhammadu Buhari has failed to secure the citizens from incessant attacks by bandits and other terrorist groups.
According to the statement, the forum also lamented that poverty, particularly in the north, and massive social security have worsened under this administration.
“With this type of mindset, it is difficult to see how President Buhari can accept the challenge to radically improve his handling of our security situation.
“Nonetheless, we believe that Nigerians must continue to raise our voices and organize through all legitimate means to demand that the administration addresses major failings in his perception of our situation and his response to our demands for our rights to security,” the statement reads in part.
The Northern Elders Forum condemned the insurgents’ tactics of targeting Christians and publicising their execution but it also appealed to religious leaders not to fall into the trap of insurgents setting them against each other.
On community policing, the forum recommended the adoption of a more vigorous and inclusive process but asked state governments to exercise higher levels of restraint and responsibility in the manner they respond to security challenges.
Another issue the Northern Elders forum commented on was the restriction order on by the Lagos state government on the operation of commercial motorcycles and tricycle riders.
The forum urged northern state governments to mobilize and support affected riders from the north who may wish to relocate back to the territory.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has asked the armed forces to take the battle to the criminals in their hideouts, in a bid to tackle the security challenges in the country.
He stated this on Wednesday when he met with the service chiefs and the joint House Committees on Defence, Army, Navy and Air Force at the National Assembly complex in Abuja.
Those present included Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.
The meeting comes one week after the House and the Senate dedicated a whole day to debate the issue of insecurity in the country, with the lawmakers calling for the resignation of the service chiefs.
According to the speaker, security is a priority of the 9th House of Representatives and will be addressed frontally.
He told the service chiefs that Nigerians were on the necks of their representatives in the House over the security situation in the country.
Gbajabiamila noted that although the service chiefs were doing a lot, the anxiety among Nigerians was enough reason for the military commanders to redouble their efforts.
He said, “I thought I should be here to encourage everybody that we’re all on the same page. We all know the situation in Nigeria today, we can’t hide from it; we can’t shy away from it, we cannot pretend that it doesn’t exist.
“We spent practically the whole day on Wednesday (last week) discussing the security situation in Nigeria as expected. Simultaneously, the Senate was doing the same thing without us comparing notes.”
The lawmaker decried that people were dying daily in such a way he said could only be found in countries without security forces.
He stressed, ”We must think outside the box; we must take the battle to these criminals whatever they are.
“As I said at the State House the other day, Nigerians are anxious, but I do understand the limitations of the Armed Forces.”
Gbajabiamila, however, commended the service chiefs, as well as men and women of the Armed Forces for doing their best and sacrificing their lives for the country.
He promised that the House would continue to engage the armed forces to find a lasting solution to the security challenges.
The speaker assured the service chiefs of improved support of the lawmakers, highlighting funding, equipment, and recruitment of personnel as some of the challenges they face.
“I believe the committee is well equipped to handle these issues. This is our priority. It’s the government’s priority, and it should also be our priority in the House.
“It’s major in our legislative agenda and we must address it frontally, squarely,” he said.
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has inaugurated an ad-hoc committee of the Senate to look into the current security architecture of the country.
At the inauguration ceremony held on Tuesday in Abuja, Senator Lawan asked the 18-member committee to recommend ways to improve the nation’s present security situation.
This comes one week after the Senate had exhaustive deliberations on the security situation in the country and resolved to set up a committee on ‘Nigerian Security Challenges: Urgent Need To Restructure, Review and Reorganise the Current Security Architecture.’
In his remarks, the Senate President asked the committee members to be rigorous in their assignment in order to “deepen the understanding of the nature of the security crisis.”
He urged them to have a realistic assessment of the problem and proffer workable solution, stressing that the Constitution guarantees protection of the life and property of every Nigerian and the government’s commitment to upholding same.
Lawan said, “It is well known that Security Sector Governance (SSG) aims at elaborating rules that set standards for state and human security by applying the principle of good governance to the security sector.
“This makes security provision, oversight, and management more effective and more accountable, within the framework of democratic civilian control.”
“The Legislature also further seeks a Security Sector Reform (SSR) that will transform the security sector and assign roles and responsibilities in a manner that is consistent with democratic norms and the principles of good governance.
“These principles include respect for the rule of law, transparency, accountability, and public trust,” he added.
According to the Senate President, Nigeria must initiate the process to formulate or re-orient the policies, structures, and capacities of institutions and groups engaged in the security sector.
He believes this will make them more effective, efficient, accountable, and responsive to democratic control and to the security and justice needs of the people.
Lawan also charged the security agencies to give all the necessary cooperation for the committee to discharge its duties effectively.
He said, “We don’t want a situation where security agencies will hoard information from us. What we are trying to do is to support our security agencies to function optimally.”
In his remarks, the chairman of the committee and the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, said despite the challenges of limited time and funds, the committee would strive to lay the desired solid foundation for peace and security.
Members of the committee include the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe; Senate Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Sabi Abdullahi; Senator Mohammed Ndume, Senator Aliyu Wammako, Senator Dauda Jike, Senator Kashim Shettima, Senator Ibn Na’Allah, Senator George Sekibo, and Senator Ibrahim Gobir.
Others are Senator Suleiman Kwari, Senator Kabiru Gaya, Senator Gershom Bassey, Senator Stella Oduah, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, Senator Abba Moro, Senator Abubakar Yusuf, and Senator Abdullahi Adamu.