The Nigerian Senate believes that a decision on the issue of State of Emergency extension in terror-ravaged states should not be made in isolation of service chiefs who have been in charge of security in the affected regions.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, was on Channels Television on Friday to discuss happenings in the Senate and their efforts as regards the fight against terror in Nigeria.
The House of Representatives had on Thursday thrown its weight behind the proposed Emergency Rule extension by President Goodluck Jonathan after a debate on the floor of the House, but the Senator believed that such matter for them at the Senate was of high importance to all Nigerians and careful deliberation must precede any decisions they would make as they were particular about protecting the interest of all Nigerians.
In view of this, the Senate on Thursday held a meeting with Service Chiefs in order to get first hand reports on the happenings in the affected Nigerian states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.
Senator Abaribe revealed that their meeting with the military heads showed that the problem of insurgency in the country was surmountable, as there were indications that the security agencies were working hard at achieving this and there had been progress.
Abaribe agreed that the request for an extension was not out of place as there were constitutionally no limits to its extension, but also noted that it was still important to be sure about its justification. He declined comments on the Senators’ views and what could be their final decision but promised that the Senate was doing its best to reach a decision in good time.
Speaking about the closed door meeting with the security chiefs, he said that the emphasis of the Senate was on the milestones in their activities, what they have been able to achieve and the challenges they were facing.
Although Senator Abaribe admitted that there had been constraints facing the military in their fight against insurgency, which the Senate was working on addressing, he asked that Nigerians should drop the idea of condemning the military and criticizing them as being ill-equipped, less motivated or ill-trained to fight the terrorists.
One of the worrying occurrences identified by many Nigerians in the terror fight had been the flow of conflicting information and Abaribe said that the most important thing at the point was to focus on getting Nigerian citizens who were in danger back to safety first before trying to look at who was right or wrong.
He admitted that this was indeed an issue, as he condemned the release of too much detail about the military operations into the media. He also berated the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, for being too vocal, wondering why he would always inform the media every time he supports the military with information. According to him, “These people are also listening.”
Senator Abaribe acknowledged the agitation of Nigerians and their constant thirst for information about the progress of the fight against terror in Nigeria. He, however, believed that there was need for caution because the security architecture of the country requires all Nigerians to be careful in their support as “some of the things we used to take for granted can no longer be taken for granted.”
He also spoke about the Senate’s resolve to end the violent activities of herdsmen in recent times and their clashes with farming communities which have led to several killings in the North and Middle belt regions of Nigeria.