Very critical issue of Fulani herdsmen killings in Benue State that touched the cord and sensitivity of Nigerians and Nigerian State, which the executive arm of Nigerian government, under President Muhammadu Buhari’s watch, has been handling passively, is being handled more passionately by Nigerian Senate.
At plenary, Tuesday, January 16, the Senate gave Nigerian Inspector-General of Police, Idris Ibrahim, clear 14-days ultimatum, to go-after the perpetrators of Benue killings, arrest and prosecute them. The ultimatum was significant. In taking decisions on critical issues, timeline was necessary to show commitment and to achieve maximum result.
Tuesday’s debate on Benue killings and Senate Adhoc Committee Report on the Review of Current Security Infrastructure in Nigeria was a platform the Senators spoke in one voice. They condemned the killings in Benue and other parts of the country by the herdsmen, and engaged the executive in its seeming inaction. The Senators urged the government to ensure the security of lives of Nigerians in wherever they live in the country.
After extensive debate, devoid of sentiment, Bukola Saraki, President of the Senate remarked that the clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Benue and other states had shown it was not religious-based. He said: “It was a breakdown of law and order in that part of the country”.
Saraki’s 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. 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”.
The Senate ultimatum: “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 the minimum requirement and it must happen”, Saraki added.
Senate President Saraki said: “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”.
Saraki said: “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”.
Same day, Tuesday, National Assembly leadership, led by Senate President Bukola Saraki met with President Buhari at the presidential villa and briefed him on decisions and resolutions of the Senate on the Benue crisis. Saraki told journalists at the villa, that they successfully briefed the president. The Senate’s actions on the crisis were clearly at variance with the Executive’s action.
President Buhari, Monday, met with delegation of political leaders, traditional rulers and elders of Benue, led by the State Governor Samuel Ortom, at the presidential villa, on Benue crisis. Media reports on the visit, gave the president away as “begging” for solution, rather than proactively and decisively acting to bring criminal elements in Benue killings to justice.
Addressing the delegates, President Buhari said: “Your Excellency, the governor, and all the leaders here, I am appealing to you to try to restrain your people. I assure you that the Police, the Department of State Security and other security agencies had been directed to ensure that all those behind the mayhem get punished”.
And added: “I ask you in the name of God to accommodate your country men. You can also be assured that I am just as worried, and concerned with the situation”.
He, however, commiserated with victims of the attacks, families who lost loved ones and properties and promised government’s efforts to ameliorate the situation of the victims. He said relevant agencies, had been directed to cater for the humanitarian needs of victims.
Media reports have been awash with different headlines that reflected the mood of the Nigeria nation after 73 victims brutally killed by Fulani herdsmen were buried last Thursday. This human angle reports, beclouded every other reports the past week.
At the expiration of the14-days ultimatum given to the Inspector-General of Police, Idris Ibrahim, by the Senate to fish out the perpetrators of Benue killings for prosecution, what next? Would the IGP heed the ultimatum? Would the presidency act on the decisions and resolutions of the Senate at Tuesday plenary?
Governor Samuel Ortom was at the presidential villa, Tuesday, January 9, to brief President Buhari on the incident before the burial of the victims, Thursday. He told journalists after the visit that he has revealed to the president the location of the attackers of his people that have killed dozens.
Ortom said: “I had to brief him; he is also doing further investigation to know the next line of action. I believe that my request that the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, who had earlier threatened and I accused them directly, since June last year, I have been writing to the leadership of security agencies, that these people are a threat to our collective interest and they must be dealt with”.
He said the identities and locations of the attackers are well known. “We know where they are. As I talk to you they are in Tongua in Awe local government; that is where these people are camped and coming to attack people.”
And added: “They must be arrested and prosecuted because we cannot allow impunity to continue to thrive. And of course threat and no action has resulted in this killing and I think that Mr. President will also do the needful to ensure something is done.”