The Senate yesterday rose from a marathon debate on the insecurity in the country, particularly the rising cases of kidnapping, and resolved to invite the Acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to a meeting over how to effectively tackle these matters.
In a motion to that effect sponsored by Shehu Sani (Kaduna Central) and 107 other senators, it was pointed out that many local government areas in Niger, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Borno and Yobe states as well as other key areas in the northern part of the country are under siege by kidnappers and other criminal elements.
During the debate that lasted for over three hours, it was revealed that over 3,000 Nigerians are currently being held in captivity by kidnappers in Zamfara and other states in the North.
The Senate was equally informed that foreign firms have adopted the option of making provisions for ransom in their annual budgets. Members of the elite and the governing political class were indicted for paying attention only to protecting their power bases.
Although, the IGP is expected to appear next week, no specific date has been fixed.
The lawmakers observed with concern that the northern part of the country has become the nation’s killing fields, where bandits and other criminal elements hold sway.
Sani, in his lead debate, lamented: “In recent times, the attacks on individuals, houses and villages have become one too many and there is no single person that has been brought to book as a result of the wanton killings, and the so much emphasised efforts at combating the crime are not yielding fruitful results.
“We are worried that the criminals tend to be gaining more courage to perpetrate their dastardly acts without fear of confrontation due to their acclaimed superior fire power.
“The unfortunate event of 19th April, 2019 where gunmen raided a resort called Kajuru in Kajuru Local Government area of Kaduna State, and a Briton, Ms. Faye Mooney and a Nigerian, Mr. Mathew Oguche were killed and three others abducted have put more fear into Nigerians.
“Recall that earlier in the year, President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered senior security chiefs to curb kidnapping in the region when four western tourists, two Americans and two Canadians were abducted in Kaduna in an ambush in January that left two of their police escorts dead.”
Kabiru Marafa (APC, Zamfara State) told the Senate that businesses and other sources of livelihood, including farming, had collapsed in the northern states.
He warned that there maybe no Zamfara State in the next two years if the insecurity in the region persists, adding that the only way out is to meaningfully engage the youths whom he observed are predominantly indulging in banditry.
“I saw a video from my state where children of about 11 years are wielding AK47 rifles. This is the reality on ground in my Zamfara State. There are over 3,000 kidnapped victims in the dens of bandits. This thing is not reducing. It has become a business. There is technically no business in the north, except kidnapping.
“People have abandoned their farms in the north. There are no more peasant farmers. They are being kidnapped by bandits . This is a serious problem.
“I disagree with my colleague from Katsina. All businesses in the north are dead. The government must employ people or they will join these bandits. The reason behind this problem is corruption.
“We can’t employ enough security people to man every community in the country. Where are we going? With due respect to my colleagues, with the kind of irresponsible leadership we have seen in states, we cannot solve this problem.”
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, said kidnapping of foreigners had jacked up the cost of constructing roads in the country.
According to him, foreign construction companies now factor in money for payment of ransoms into the cost when negotiating with government.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who presided over the session, said a solution must be found on ways out of the repeated attacks.
“When we talk about the way forward, we must be true to ourselves. In discussing this issue, we must be frontal. We need to tell ourselves where this started from. We must not see it from the eyes of political parties or anything sentimental.
“There was a time when we couldn’t even talk to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) for over a year. He refused to honour our invitation. We need to be serious whether we want to find a solution or just play to the gallery.
“I am aware that people have now deserted Kaduna expressway because of insecurity. In the past, kidnapping was done in the city. Today, it is different. Nowhere is safe anymore. We need to tell ourselves the truth and find a way out of this mess. We must find a solution.”
Also yesterday, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabah, urged an immediate review of the nation’s security architecture to check the upsurge of banditry, kidnapping and insurgency in the country.
Wabah’ s position was disclosed at the 11th delegates congress of the Kano State chapter of the NLC. Represented by NLC Deputy National President and President of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Dr. Nasiru Idris, Wabah lamented the heinous activities of bandits in Zamfara, Kaduna, Niger and other states where innocent citizens were killed.