•Senate investigates allegations
From ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, Abuja
Chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Committee, Bukar Abba Ibrahim has refuted comments made by the Chief of Army Staff, Azubuike Ihejirika that over 3,000 people had been killed by Boko Haram. Senate President David Mark immediately directed three standing committees: Police Affairs, Defence and Army and National Intelligence and Security to investigate the allegations.
The three committees will investigate allegations of police supplying arms to insurgents as well as the killings of innocent Nigerians by security agencies. Ibrahim said security agencies forced Boko Haram to embark on killing spree against Nigerians, adding that they (security agencies) were actually responsible for more than 3,000 deaths. Ibrahim, a former governor of Yobe State, also said that more than 5,000 people were killed in a single day in Maiduguri, Borno State alone.
He said this during consideration of the Kabiru Marafa motion on the October 29 banditry attack on Kabaru village in Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State. “Initially I wanted to oppose the motion but I later changed my mind to support it. What is happening today is really very sad. We stopped talking that security agencies are the number one killers in term of number. “I was surprised the other day when the Chief of Army Staff said Boko Haram killed 3,000 people. The security agencies have killed a lot more than 3,000 when this thing started. “On the first day that this crisis erupted in Maiduguri, over 5,000 people were killed. Boko Haram is just like any other religious sect, it has existed for ages.
It’s not a new phenomenon altogether, but it is the activities of particularly the police who pushed the Boko Haram people to the wall by killing their leaders, killing thousands of other innocent people. That is what forced them to come out against the Nigerian state.
“It is the attitude of the security agencies; the way they operate that really makes it worse, not any better. Of course naturally, common criminals will take advantage of the situation to extort money from people and then the armed robbers are the third killers, and this is happening in Zamfara. “I fully support this motion because it is relevant to what is happening in other parts of the north not just Zamfara State and I think the NSA, the Inspector-General of police, the Chief of Army Staff and other leaders should really take a close look and probably investigate the activities of security agencies.
“They are killing people, many people, day in day out. If one army officer is killed in an area, they will come and cordone off the whole place (and) kill whatever people they can get hold of and then burn all the properties in that area. “What has properties got to do with people killing security agents on the road? If a security agent was killed on patrol, they will come and burn the whole area.
I will be in a position to accompany them so that we will go round together…” Chairman of the Works Committee, Ayogu Eze said the Senate should go beyond raising motions, which have little or effect in law, adding that, “our security apparatus must get results so that we can protect our people.”
He said the Boko Haram insurgents could not be aligned with any religious belief or doctrine, insisting that neither Islam nor Christianity encourages the killing of people for whatever reason. He said the situation in Borno and other northern states currently being faced with the Boko Haram insurgents was worrisome to the Federal Government, adding that the president was concerned and as the nation’s Chief Security Officer, “is doing everything possible with the government of Borno and other affected states to address the situation.” He urged the people to continue to pray even as he commended the state governor for his tireless effort in providing social services to the people despite the security situation. He condoled the people of Borno over the death of Gen Mamman Shuwa, adding that the slain retired General made enormous sacrifices to keep Nigeria together during the Civil War. Gov Kashim Shettima in his reaction said late Gen Mamnan Shuwa was an iconoclast soldier, a legendary civil war veteran, an administrator, having served the military government of Murtala/Obasanjo.
“He served the people, lived with the people and died for the people. He chose to live at Gwange, densely populated rustic settlement in Maiduguri volatile for Boko Haram attacks when most of his contemporaries were in choicest areas in the country.” he said the state would miss his words of experience and advise. The governor thanked the president for his concern and for the high-powered delegation and condolence to the people of the state. Ruling on the motion, the Senate President informed the chamber of his intervention with Ihejirika, which had no headway. “I think what we want to achieve is the reduction of high insecurity in the country.
When Marafa first mentioned it to me, the impression I got was that it was a cross-border attack by nationals of other countries. I think it is internal banditry and criminal activities going on. “It is not for me to defend or speak for the Armed Forces, but the Armed Forces find themselves in a very difficult situation when they have to do street to street or internal operation or fight.
“What I will suggest is that areas like this when we have this type of problem, people must give out information as much and as quickly as possible because once you kill a member of the Armed Forces, the natural reaction is to do what is happening now.
“It is very difficult for a commanding officer to see two or three of his people killed and he begins to search around for people who have committed the atrocity. It is usually very difficult. For the police, I think as much information as you can give to them will help.
“There are serious allegations that have been raised here today and I hope that the committee on Police Affairs and Intelligence and National Security, Defence and Army will take up some of these. “But I know that senators here have complained to me about the actions of the members of security agents. I have called either the Chief of Army Staff or Defence Staff to listen to their own side of the story, too. And the fact of the matter is that it is neither here nor there. “When there is insecurity, so many things can go wrong and that is why we have to make every effort to bring the situation to normalcy,” Mark said.